Divorce Law & Health Insurance in Oregon
By Elizabeth Rayne, J.D.
If you are on your spouse's health insurance plan, your insurance coverage will automatically end when your divorce is finalized in Oregon. However, the state's laws provide several exceptions. If you pay your own premiums, you may be able to stay on the insurance plan. Additionally, the court or a settlement agreement may require a spouse to continue to provide health insurance.
Group Health Insurance
If you receive group health insurance through your spouse, your insurance coverage may end as soon as the divorce is finalized. However, state law has a few exceptions. If federal law does not provide that insurance will continue for you, Oregon law provides that you can stay on the group plan for up to nine months following divorce. Additionally, if you are over 55 years old, you may stay on your spouse's health insurance until you are covered under a different plan or become eligible for Medicare. This option is only available if the insurance is provided by an employer who has 20 or more employees. In either case, you must submit a written request to the health insurance provider to stay on the plan.
In addition to state law, the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, may allow you to stay on your spouse's health insurance. You will only qualify under COBRA if your spouse's employer has 20 or more employees and you notify the plan administrator within 60 days of getting the divorce. You may continue to receive health insurance for up to 36 months. However, you will be responsible for paying the insurance premiums, which otherwise would have been paid by the employer.
Portability Health Insurance
Another option is to request health insurance portability under Oregon law, which you may use after you have exhausted COBRA or other state coverage. In order to qualify, you must be an Oregon resident and ineligible for Medicare. Further, you must submit an application to the insurance provider within 63 days after your insurance expires. Like the COBRA option, you will be responsible for paying your own insurance premiums.
Apart from the state and federal laws concerning health insurance, one spouse may continue to pay for the other spouse's health insurance pursuant to either a settlement agreement or a divorce decree from the court. A spouse may be required to pay all or part of insurance costs, or the spouse may pay for insurance only until the other spouse finds employment that provides insurance. Additionally, courts in Oregon may consider health insurance costs when determining how much to award in spousal support.
If you and your spouse have children, the court will determine which parent will be responsible for paying for health insurance. Courts incorporate health insurance costs into the child support order, so long as it is reasonably available and affordable. If private health insurance is not available, the court may order parents to apply for public health insurance, such as the Oregon Health Plan, to ensure the child has insurance.
- Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Insurance Division: Notice to parties in a suit for marriage dissolution or legal separation regarding continuation of health coverage
- United States Department of Labor: COBRA Continuation Health Coverage
- Legal Aid Services of Oregon and Oregon Law Center: Family Law in Oregon
- Oregon State Bar: Child and Spousal Support
- Court of Appeals of Oregon: Matter of Marriage of Barrett and Barrett
Elizabeth Rayne earned her J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2009, advising clients on issues ranging from employment law to nonprofit management. For two years, she served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."