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Choose the right post-divorce health care coverage

If you are in the process of a divorce, or simply contemplating ending your marriage, you want to do your homework first, and one of the focuses of your research should be your post-divorce health care.

As it is quite common for one spouse to carry the other on the health care plan provided by the spouse's employer, this will in all likelihood change after a divorce is finalized. This means that the spouse without coverage has to plan now.

One source of coverage of course are the plans offered via healthcare.gov. While there are plans for virtually every budget on the government's website, there are many factors to consider, not the least of which are the financial penalties for not having coverage — starting next year, penalties of $695.00 per individual and $347.50 per minor child will be assessed to those without coverage.

Below are some important health care considerations for divorcing spouses.

-- Pre-planning is essential. Wading through the specifications of each policy level of coverage takes time and effort. Failing to exercise due diligence now can be a very costly error.

-- When factoring health insurance costs, make sure that you consider the projected annual increases into your budget. Assume there will be at minimum an increase of 5 percent each year.

-- Deadlines matter. Obamacare coverage has periods of open enrollment each year, but newly divorced individuals are eligible for a special enrollment period during the 60 days after a divorce. Missing that deadline causes you to have to wait until the following year's open enrollment period.

-- Remember that the COBRA policy offered by your previous insurer is likely to be prohibitively expensive. Thoroughly assess all of your options before choosing.

-- Don't try to muddle through it alone. Independent health insurance brokers can discover the best option for your situation.

Remember to include your health care concerns in discussions with your family law attorney. He or she can often negotiate for periods of extended coverage for you in the divorce settlement.

Source: Huffington Post, "5 Things You Need to Know About Health Insurance After Divorce," Karen Covy, Nov. 20, 2015

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