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What Happens to Person’s Health Insurance in an Illinois Gray Divorce?

 Posted on March 16, 2023 in Divorce


While the overall rate of divorce has declined over the past several years, the rate of gray divorces has increased. Gray divorces are those that involve couples who are 50 years of age or older. Gray divorces have some unique issues that often need to be addressed that divorces involving younger spouses typically do not. One of those important issues is health insurance. What options does a person who has always been on their spouse’s health insurance have when they are divorcing later in life, especially given the high price of health insurance for older people and how might this issue affect negotiations when it comes to the division of assets?

Why You Need Health Insurance

Given the high prices of medical care, everyone should have health insurance. All it takes is one serious illness or injury and the person can be facing overwhelming medical debt that can have a significant impact on their finances and may even lead to the need to file for bankruptcy.

Having health insurance is particularly important as we get older because there are inevitable health issues that come with aging. These health issues not only involve doctor visits and treatments, but they often require the need for expensive prescription medications. If you are getting divorced and have always been under your spouse’s health insurance plan, the following are options you may have to ensure you maintain coverage:

  • Coverage under your employer’s health insurance plan

  • Coverage under either the Illinois Spousal Continuation Coverage Law or the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

  • Medicare

  • Individual under marketplace health insurance plans

Although an employer’s health insurance plan or an individual marketplace health insurance plan may be viable options, they might not be options for many people going through a gray divorce. What happens to spouses who are not working outside the home or are close to retiring? What if the employer’s plan is too expensive? The same issue of affordability could be an issue when it comes to purchasing marketplace health insurance plans. This leaves the other two options listed.

Illinois Spousal Continuation Coverage Law

The state of Illinois does allow a person to remain on their ex-spouse’s health insurance plan under certain circumstances. Those who are under the age of 55 can stay on the plan for only two years. If they are 55 or older, they can stay on the plan until they qualify for Medicare.

It is important to know that this option can be quite expensive. Individuals are required to pay the entire premium, including both the employer's and the employee’s contribution amounts. If the coverage will be longer than two years, the insurance company can also add a 20 percent fee to the total premium amount.


When a person turns 65 years of age, they qualify for Medicare. In order to avoid the need to pay a premium for the coverage, they must have worked for 40 quarters (10 years). They may also qualify under their ex-spouse's coverage if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years, they are at least 62 years of age, and they have not remarried.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney for Help

A dedicated Wheaton, IL divorce attorney understands there are many issues in a gray divorce that can be overwhelming for the client going through it. Make sure you are protected. Call Hensley Sendek Law at 630-358-9029 to schedule a free consultation and find out what your legal options may be.





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