What divorcing federal employees need to know about FEHB coverage

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Divorce

If you’re a federal employee or retiree whose soon-to-be ex doesn’t work for the federal government, they’re likely getting their health insurance through your Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) plan. You may be wondering if you have to continue their coverage after your divorce.

If any person is covered under their spouse’s health insurance plan, in the public or private sector, their coverage typically ends the day the divorce is finalized. The same is true with FEHB unless the non-federal employee’s spouse makes other arrangements.

If your spouse meets the requirements, they can continue to receive FEHB coverage as a former spouse thanks to the Spouse Equity Act. However, they need to get that coverage themselves and you have no obligation to pay for it unless that’s something you work out in your support agreement.

Who qualifies to continue on an FEHB plan as a former spouse?

A former spouse can get their own plan as long as: 

  • Their husband or wife worked for the federal government or was receiving an annuity at the time of the divorce.
  • They were covered as a family member under their spouse’s plan at any time during the 18 months prior to the divorce.
  • They were entitled to part of their spouse’s annuity

They can continue this coverage as long as they don’t remarry before turning 55. 

If your spouse doesn’t qualify for continued FEHB coverage, they can still take advantage of the Temporary Continuation of Coverage (TCC) program – generally for up to 18 months — while they get other insurance.

What if you have children?

It’s important to note that if you have children, they can remain on your FEHB plan until they age out. One of the things co-parents need to work out in divorce is who will be responsible for their children’s health insurance coverage.

Don’t forget that while your spouse is responsible for obtaining a new FEHB plan or other insurance, you may need to change your FEHB plan to meet your post-divorce needs. Insurers, including FEHB, consider divorce a Qualifying Life Event (QLE). That means you can change your coverage outside of the annual renewal period. 

Health insurance may not be uppermost in your mind right now. However, it should be on your list of things to consider during your divorce. With experienced legal guidance, you won’t neglect to consider things like this that could otherwise be forgotten.