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Dropping a Spouse from Health Insurance: When and How is it Possible?

Can I Drop My Spouse From My Health Insurance at Any Time? 

You cannot drop your spouse from your health insurance at any time. Instead, you must wait for a qualifying event to open up a special enrollment period or make changes during open enrollment. Open enrollment happens annually from November 1 to January 15. 

This situation may occur if you have separated from your spouse or they have gotten another job that offers them benefits. Whatever the reason, be sure you understand how and when to remove your spouse from your health insurance plan. 

Making Changes to Your Health Insurance

You can make changes to your health insurance coverages or beneficiaries for any reason. Modifying your health insurance coverage is usually done during open enrollment or in response to qualifying life events.

A spouse can be removed from your plan by contacting your insurer and providing information about why you want to do so. You might want to drop your spouse in many situations, including divorce, legal separation, or your spouse obtaining separate coverage. 

When separated, removing a spouse can reduce costs and streamline coverage. It is important to carefully consider the situation before dropping your spouse, as you do not want them to be without coverage which may have financial repercussions for you both.

How Does Removing Someone From a Health Insurance Plan Work? 

You must contact your health insurance company to remove your spouse, or anyone, from your insurance policy. Remember, there are usually only two times you can: during open enrollment or a qualifying event. 

Removing Your Spouse During Open Enrollment 

During open enrollment, you can make changes to your health insurance plans. During this time, you can do any or all of the following:

  • Adjust your coverage levels
  • Add or remove dependents
  • Switch plans

Changing your insurance information can be done in the online portal of your insurance provider or by submitting updated forms.

Removing Your Spouse During a Qualifying Event 

Qualifying events are significant life changes that allow you to change your health insurance outside of the standard enrollment period. These are some of the most common qualifying events:

  • Legal separation, divorce, or marriage
  • A child’s birth, adoption, or placement
  • Having lost other health insurance (e.g., due to a job loss)
  • Moving to an area where there are different options for plans
  • The number of dependents or the size of the household changes
  • Government program eligibility

To make changes during a qualifying event:

  1. Make sure you notify your insurance provider as soon as possible.
  2. Provide your insurer with required documents, such as birth certificates or marriage certificates. 
  3. Update existing coverage options to align with the event or choose new ones.
  4. Consult your insurer about the timeline and requirements.

How to Remove Your Spouse From Your Health Plan

If you know you are ready and able to remove your spouse from your health plan, do the following:

  1. Review your plan. Review your plan for any explanation of how removing dependents work and if you can do so. 
  2. Notify your employer or insurance provider. If your health insurance is through work, you can simply tell them to remove them. If not, contact the insurer yourself.
  3. Submit required forms. The insurer may require you to submit forms and any documentation proving why you are dropping them. 
  4. Communicate with your spouse. Be sure to let your spouse know, even if you are no longer together, so they can obtain health insurance elsewhere.
  5. Confirm changes. Confirm the changes made when you receive documentation from your insurer. Follow up if you do not get any notice.

Should You Remove Your Spouse From Your Health Insurance?

Consider all the pros and cons when determining whether you should remove your spouse from your health insurance. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing so. 

Advantages

There are some advantages to removing your spouse from your health insurance. Some may make sense for your situation even if you are still married. 

  • Financial: Removing your spouse will reduce your costs.
  • Flexibility: You can customize your coverages for yourself rather than taking your spouse into consideration, which is helpful if you need different coverages.
  • Duplication: Avoid overlapping of coverage by having separate policies.
  • Privacy: If you want more privacy over your medical records, you can remove your spouse, keeping your records separate.
  • Billing: If you are a stickler for keeping organized billing records, keeping your medical expenses separate may be more manageable.
  • Legal: If you are in the middle of a divorce, it can help show clear ownership of the policy.

Disadvantages 

There are also some disadvantages to removing your spouse from your health insurance policy; you should consider them before deciding whether to do so.

  • Legal: Being in the middle of divorce or separation can create issues if you are not careful. Depending on the judge, removing your spouse from health insurance could look ill-advised.
  • Financial: Your spouse may have trouble finding affordable coverage elsewhere.
  • Gaps: Your health insurance plan could be broader than one they can obtain on their own, leaving them with gaps in coverage. 
  • COBRA: If you drop your spouse and they do not have any coverage, they may have to pay for COBRA, which can be expensive. 

Alternative Healthcare Options

If you want to remove your spouse for financial reasons, there may be more affordable options to keep you both covered under some sort of health insurance. 

  • Medicaid: This government-sponsored healthcare program can provide health insurance for those who are eligible, usually lower-income families. 
  • Medicare: Federal health insurance for those who are 65 or older is available as an alternative to simply dropping your spouse. You can also supplement this insurance. 
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA): The Health Insurance Marketplace may offer some more affordable options for you or your spouse if your current plan is just getting to be too expensive. 
  • Short-Term Health Insurance: If you need a short-term solution because you have some extra financial obligations, consider a short-term policy that can be active for up to a year.
  • Catastrophic Health Insurance: A lower-cost option for those who are young and healthy. It will provide coverage for catastrophic events such as hospitalization. 

All in All 

If you are considering dropping your spouse from your health insurance, you should consider all of your options. While there are advantages and disadvantages to dropping your spouse, it will depend entirely on your unique situation as to which option is best for you.

If your reason is financially motivated, consider alternative options, such as Medicaid or catastrophic insurance. Either way, review your policy before making any decisions to ensure you will not be penalized

Frequently Asked Questions 

You can remove your spouse if you are in open enrollment or a qualifying event, even if they do not want to be. You own the policy, so you can make changes. 

Your spouse will be left without health insurance. However, they will receive a notification from COBRA giving them the option to pay to continue the plan for a period of time. 

Yes, during open enrollment or a qualifying event. 

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