Protecting What Matters Most

Can you keep TRICARE after divorcing a servicemember?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2024 | Divorce

For many people preparing to divorce, health insurance isn’t at the top of the list of things to think about. However, it needs to be on that list somewhere if you’ve been getting your health insurance through your spouse’s plan.

That goes for spouses of servicemembers who get TRICARE. If your spouse is a current or retired member of the military, you’ll need to make some changes to your health insurance. 

The extent of those changes depends on how long you and your spouse have been married, the length of their military service and how long those two things have overlapped. Here’s a brief overview of what you should know.

Two key rules

If your marriage and your spouse’s retirement-creditable service have both lasted at least 20 years and they overlapped by at least 20 years, then the 20-20-20 rule applies. That means you can continue to get health insurance through TRICARE after your divorce is final. You’ll still need to switch to your own TRICARE plan, and if you remarry, your coverage will end.

If the overlap between your 20+ year marriage and your spouse’s 20+ year service was at least 15 years, but not as long as 20, you fall under the 20/20/15 rule. That means you can keep TRICARE coverage under your own plan for one year after the final divorce decree.

What if you don’t qualify for continued TRICARE under those rules?

If you don’t fall under either of those two rules, you can get health insurance under the Continued Health Care Benefit Program (CHCBP) for up to three years. CHCBP is similar to the COBRA program in the private sector. Therefore, it’s likely more cost-effective to get new coverage through your employer or through the New York State of Health or another state’s health care marketplace, depending on where you’ll be living.

One reason it’s important not to leave this decision too late in the divorce process is because how much you’ll be paying for insurance will affect your post-divorce budget and your goals for your property division, spousal support and other agreements.


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