New Hampshire's law regarding health insurance coverage for a former spouse will change on January 1, 2008. After January 1, 2008, a former spouse will be able to continue his/her coverage under the employer sponsored group health insurance plan of the participating spouse. This means that a former spouse will receive the same benefits and coverage as he/she did during the marriage under the plan without triggering rights under COBRA. The former spouse can elect to continue coverage until the earliest of the following events occurs:
1. the 3 anniversary of the final decree of divorce or legal separation;
2. the remarriage of the former spouse;
3. the remarriage of the member spouse ;
4. the death of the member spouse; or
5. such earlier time as stated by the final decree of divorce or legal separation.
Upon the occurrence of one of the events above, the former spouse will then be able to elect continued coverage under COBRA, which will likely trigger a higher insurance premium to continue the coverage. The new law does not apply to employer's self-insured plans. As a former spouse, you will want to be prepared for this financial issue when it happens.
A former spouse will have 30 days from the divorce decree to elect continued coverage and this election must be in writing. Depending upon the health insurance plan, the former spouse may be responsible for the payment of a premium if coverage is elected. Also, the new law allows the health insurance provider to charge an administrative fee up to 2 % of the monthly premium cost. The divorce decree should state which party will pay these potential costs to avoid having to return to Court after the divorce to address this issue.
If you are in the midst of a divorce, you should seek legal counsel regarding your specific rights and responsbilities under New Hamphisire's new law for health insurance coverage.