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My Spouse "Dropped" me from Our Insurance Coverage!

It is illegal for one spouse to drop another from life or health insurance coverage during the course of the marriage, but before the entry of a final divorce decree. It is illegal to do it when separated.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Divorce Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

I have often ran into difficulties when representing the non-insurance carrying spouse in a divorce case. The spouse that maintains health or life insurance may "drop" the other spouse out of spite or just because they believe that they can because they are separated. Truth is, the Pa Support Code and the Divorce Code protect the non-insurance carrying spouse and the kids from just this type of tactic.

I just found out that my husband dropped me and kids from his health insurance, what can I do?

Pursuant to 231 Pa. Code § 1910.16-6, the party carrying health insurance has an obligation to maintain both you and the kids on his/her health insurance. You should file for both spousal support and alimony pendente lite ("APL") immediately with the local county domestic relations office. You will have a hearing scheduled and will need to request support and restoration of your health benefits. Prior to a conference with domestic relations, however, you should contact counsel to assist you in contacting your spouse's attorney and employer to advise them of their actions. Their employer has a duty to restore the health insurance coverage if they are aware of the situation.

Who has to cover the kids' health insurance?

The non-custodial parent bears the initial responsibility of providing health care coverage for the children if it is available at a reasonable cost. The court will issue a "National Medical Support Notice" required by statute (23 Pa.C.S. § 4326(d.1)) to their employer in response to notification that they are employed.

But, I underwent a procedure at my doctor's office and didn't find out until later that he dropped me from coverage.

That's all right. Your spouse's employer that supplies the health insurance coverage will still be obligated to cover the procedure if your spouse improperly dropped you from coverage. You should again, seek counsel to discuss this problem with you and the process you need to undertake to get the claim paid by insurance.

What should I do going forward?

If you have filed for divorce or if they have (it doesn't matter who filed), you should file an additional claim in the divorce complaint seeking 'insurance protection' pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3502(d) of the Divorce Code. Under this provision it states:

  • (d) The court may direct the continued maintenance and beneficiary designations of existing policies insuring the life or health of either party that were originally purchased during the marriage and owned by or within the effective control of either party. Where it is necessary to protect the interests of a party, the court may also direct the purchase of, and beneficiary designations on, a policy insuring the life or health of either party.

If you have been dropped from you spouse's life or health insurance coverage, it is important to seek competent counsel immediately to represent your interests and make sure you are covered. Life and health insurance benefits should not be discontinued during a divorce proceeding. Contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC.