Mandatory Provisions for Health Insurance and Wage Assignments in Orders for Support

G.L. Chapter 208, Sec. 17 provides that when an order for alimony is made and the recipient is not a member of a private group health insurance plan the order shall include a provision relating to health insurance in accordance with Section 34.

G.L. Chapter 208, Sec. 20 by provides that where an order for maintenance of a spouse or child is made and such spouse or child is not a member of a private group health insurance plan the order shall include a provision relating to health insurance in accordance with Section 34.

G.L. Chapter 208, Sec. 28 provides that when there is an order makes an order for maintenance or support of a minor child and the child is not covered by a private group health insurance plan, the court shall determine if the obligor under such order has health insurance or a group plan available to him pursuant to his employment or organization that may be extended to include the child. If the obligor has such insurance the order shall include a requirement that the obligor exercise the option of additional coverage in favor of the child.

G.L. Chapter 208, Sec. 34 by provides that when an order for alimony is made on behalf of a spouse, the court shall determine if the obligor under such order has health insurance or a group plan available to him pursuant to his employment or organization that may be extended to include the spouse at a reasonable cost. If the obligor has such insurance the order shall include a requirement that the obligor do one of the following: exercise the option of additional coverage in favor of the spouse, obtain coverage for the spouse or reimburse the spouse for the cost of health insurance.

G.L. Chapter 208, Sec. 36 provides that security for alimony and child support orders may be required in form of a wage assignment by the obligor.

G.L. Chapter 175, Sec 110I mandates continuing health insurance coverage for divorced or separated spouses. It provides that a divorced spouse remains eligible for continuing benefits until either party remarries or until such time as provided for in the Judgment of Divorce. This statute also expands a divorced spouse’s right to benefits beyond those rights conferred under federal law through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”).

However, Massachusetts law provides for expanded benefits (beyond those conferred under COBRA). So long as the divorced spouse is on the plan at the time of the divorce, Chapter 175, Sec. 110I allows the divorced spouse to remain on the original health plan. This is so because the statutory right is a right to continue. No new medical examinations can be required and this statute applies to insurance companies both within and without the Commonwealth so long as the party’s residence is here or a party to the action is a Massachusetts employee. More importantly, Massachusetts law provides the following:

  1. There is no three year limit;
  2. There is no additional cost to the divorced spouse until the remarriage of the employee spouse; and
  3. Even upon the remarriage of the employee spouse, the divorced spouse is entitled to take out a rider to the family plan contract or the issuance of an individual contract, both providing continued group benefits under the employee’s group health plan.

Finally, if the continuation coverage requirements are not met for all plans maintained by a Massachusetts employer as required by COBRA, that employer will lose the tax deduction for expenses paid or incurred regarding all health plans maintained by the employer.

Effective July 1, 2007 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is requiring that everyone have health insurance. If a person does not have health insurance through their employment the Commonwealth of Mass is offering subsidized health insurance for those people making under $30,000 annually, and approved non-subsidized plans for people making over $30,000.

Some helpful contacts:

Children’s Medical Security Plan
www.cmspkids.com
(800) 909-2677

Commonwealth Care Program*
www.maCommonwealthCare.com
(877) MA-ENROLL

Mass Health**
www.mass.gov/masshealth
(888) 665-9993

Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector***
www.mass.gov/connector
(617) 933-3140


* Under 300 percent of poverty now $30,000
** For kids 300% of poverty level
*** For people who make more than $30,000