Non-Active Duty Military Health Insurance and Military Divorce

Active duty military receive health services through the Military Health System. Typically, those who are in non-active duty National Guard and Ready Reserves have health insurance through their private employers. When called into active duty, their insurance coverage may be significantly affected. Employers are not required to cover service men and women while they are on active duty, although some employers may do so voluntarily.

If you are insured through your employer and are now on active duty, you may continue paying the insurance premiums on your own to continue your employer’s health care coverage for up to 18 months. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), anyone who is covered under the health insurance plan, including a spouse, may make the premium payments and continue that coverage for up to 18 months. That is so, even if you decide not to continue paying the premiums for your coverage. An extension of up to 18 months is also possible for certain qualifying events (the maximum possible period of continuation coverage being 36 months).

If you have been released from military service, then the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) provides transitional health insurance after Tricare coverage ends through the Military Health System. Those who are eligible include former active duty service members who have been released from service, and their eligible family members. There is a 60-day enrollment period, beginning after separation from active duty or the termination of military health care. A divorced spouse who remains unmarried, as well as non-eligible children, can apply for CHCBP coverage, but must also pay the premiums. A civilian “unremarried former spouse” may get 18 months of health insurance coverage similar to that provided with Tricare Standard care.

Military dependents receive health and dental care through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS). With some exceptions based upon duration of marriage during the military service period, divorce will disqualify the former spouse from this program. When CHAMPUS ends, the former spouse may choose the CHCBP coverage, or select a nonmilitary health insurer.