When major life events like a pandemic test our emotional and mental well-being and our marriages, sometimes the result is the end of our relationships. Why? It may be that spending too much time together and a lack of time outside doesn’t give us the space and time we need to process arguments or stress. Or perhaps the extra time has allowed us to take stock of our lives and speed up decisions that had been put off.
It is vital to retain financial security during trying times and to have tools in place to find a healthy new balance in your life – and that includes health insurance. Remember, your provincial or territorial health plan only covers basic healthcare needs, but health insurance helps you to pay for services that aren’t covered, such as private nursing services, ambulance transportation, wheelchairs, medical equipment and dental care costs.
Here are three aspects about your health insurance that you need to review after you separate.
Too often, we are not aware of health insurance ownership arrangements, but it is important to learn the facts, so you have an accurate picture of your economic situation.
Your health insurance policy covers you if the policy is in your name. If you don’t own your own policy and were covered under your spouse’s plan, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your spouse’s plan may allow you to remain insured under the health policy until your divorce is finalized (or it may not), and you won’t be covered after your divorce.
- You may be able to join your employer’s health insurance benefit plan.
- You can purchase your own individual health and dental coverage (even if you have a pre-existing medical condition).
Have you been using your health insurance to cover health and dental costs? Did you depend on it to cover emergency travel medical expenses?
If you need to make decisions about buying your own individual health insurance plan, here are some things to consider:
- Putting your own individual coverage in place ensures that you can be continuously covered regardless of where you work, or if you are working at all (and that helps you be financially secure).
- You can choose coverage for the health benefits you want most, like major dental costs, psychologist visits or increasingly popular alternative therapies like visits to chiropractors, physiotherapists or massage therapists.
- Your health insurance can be designed to co-ordinate with your employer coverage to increase overall protection (if you had coverage under both your group plan and your ex’s, you may lose benefits that you had depended on to top up your existing group coverage).
- If you are leaving your spouse’s group coverage, you qualify to apply within 60 to 90 days for a guaranteed issue plan that will not require medical information (which helps if you have a pre-existing medical condition).
- If you are in good health now, you have the freedom to choose the best policy possible and the security of knowing you can keep it for life, regardless of whether you have other health insurance in place or not.
If you own your health insurance plan, your former partner will not be covered under it.
If you have children, both your plan and your former partner’s plan should provide family coverage. You can select family coverage to maintain your children under your plan until they reach age 25, provided they are full-time students.
If both you and your ex have health insurance, coordination of benefits can be done according to the parent whose birthday is first in the year (e.g., if Peter was born in August and Susan born in January, Susan’s plan would pay first and Peter’s plan, second). Remember, this doesn’t apply to whoever is older, it goes by date. If you share a birthday with your ex, it will be determined by whose name comes first alphabetically.
Don’t be overwhelmed by everything you need to consider about your health insurance when you divorce. We understand that it is vital to make the right choice and are here to help you do just that. Give us a call today.
And for more step-by-step tips on managing your insurance, be sure to read Getting Divorced? Don’t Forget Your Health Insurance. It’s important information for you to know.