Along with the many challenges inherent in having a spouse who’s in the military come some pretty good benefits. Among them is health insurance via TRICARE.
If you’re a civilian who’s going to be divorcing a current or retired service member (active duty or reserve), you’ve got a lot to think about. Whether and for how long your TRICARE coverage will continue after the divorce is final should be one of your priorities – particularly if you don’t have access to an employer-sponsored plan of your own.
Do you qualify under the 20/20/20 or 20/20/15 rule?
The continuation of TRICARE for former military spouses depends on three things:
- The length of the marriage
- The length of the servicemember’s creditable consecutive service
- The length of overlap between those two
If all three of those time periods listed above are at least 20 years, you qualify to continue receiving TRICARE coverage under your spouse’s “sponsorship” until you remarry (if you do) or get insurance elsewhere. That’s known as the 20/20/20 rule.
If the service and the marriage are both at least 20 years and the overlap is at least 15 years (but less than 20), you fall under the 20/20/15 rule. That means you can get one year of continued TRICARE coverage following your divorce. That will at least give you some breathing room to shop around for a policy that fits your needs. You may be able to get health insurance through your employer. If not, you can get it through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If you remain in Washington, plans are available at Wahealthplanfinder.org.
Note that if you and your spouse have children covered under TRICARE, they won’t lose their coverage due to the divorce. Children remain covered by their military parent’s plan until they age out, regardless of the custody arrangement.
Why knowing what you’ll be spending on health insurance is important
As you go through divorce, it’s crucial to determine what your budget will look like as a newly single person in order to week the property division and support agreements you need. Health insurance can be a surprisingly large part of your monthly budget if you’re not covered under a spouse’s plan.
Having experienced legal guidance can help you as you make these and other decisions.