When parties are covered by a group health plan during the marriage, the non-participant spouse is often left without a permanent source of coverage when the marriage ends. Once the temporary relief provided by COBRA or Mini-COBRA ends; a former spouse who is afflicted with pre-existing conditions will often be placed in dire straits.

This issue, which has both financial and emotional components, can often derail settlement negotiations and convert an otherwise simple dissolution into a complex undertaking. If you become involved in a case where long-term health insurance coverage becomes an issue; you should note that an otherwise benign provision in the Florida health insurance code may have a significant impact on your client’s rights and your ability to settle an otherwise difficult case.

Florida Statute § 627.6675 titled Conversion of Termination on Eligibility requires an insurer to provide “conversion coverage” for qualified individuals whose health insurance was terminated by a qualifying event (which includes divorce where the non-participant spouse is financially dependant upon his or her former spouse).

In other words, if your client is financially dependant upon their spouse then the insurance company is required by law to provide him or her with a continuation policy (similar to COBRA) regardless of any pre-existing conditions. Unlike COBRA, however; the conversion coverage provided by § 627.6675 is not restricted by a specific time limit but rather can continue indefinitely so long as the candidate remains eligible under the provision of the statute.

While not ideal (it is still expensive) § 627.6675 provides some security to an otherwise uncovered spouse and may provide you with a vehicle for settling an otherwise difficult case.