While some folks are getting lovestruck by Cupid's arrows on Valentine's Day, others are feeling the stings from exes and cheating lovers. Along with the pain of broken promises can come serious problems with the least romantic subject of all: insurance. Here are five top questions from our readers.
1. I'm pregnant by a man who's not my husband. Will I be able to add the baby to my husband's employer-sponsored health plan?In most cases, the answer is no, says Bruce Borgos, senior director of human resource audit services at Secova, an employee benefits and human resource services firm headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif. For the baby to qualify for coverage under your husband's plan, your husband would have to show he has legal custody of the child. Typically employer health plans that extend coverage to dependents do allow stepchildren on their plans.
2. I had an affair and got another woman who's not my wife pregnant. Can I put her on my health insurance plan?"Not legitimately," Borgos says. "We've had a few cases in the past where we've uncovered these types of situations." In those instances, the fathers listed the girlfriends as their daughters on the health plans, unbeknownst to their wives. Borgos says. It's not a good idea to try to sneak someone onto your health plan who isn't actually eligible to receive coverage. Amid rising health care costs, employers hire firms like Secova to conduct dependent eligibility audits. Many employers require employees to produce documentation, such as tax returns, marriage certificates and birth certificates, to prove the relationships that qualify dependents for coverage. Secova sifts through the information for clients to determine who does and doesn't belong on their health plans. "More and more it's the really complicated relationships we have to unravel," says Chirayu Patel, Secova's vice president of client development.
An ineligible person will be dropped from a health plan if the employee can't verify the relationship. Sometimes workers misunderstand the rules for eligibility and make honest mistakes. A recently divorced employee, for instance, might not realize his ex-spouse no longer qualifies as a dependent on the health plan. But if the management finds you purposely misled your employer to get benefits for someone you knew didn't belong on the plan, then further action might be taken."That could lead to losing your own health insurance coverage or even termination of employment, depending on the employer's perception of whether that was a fraudulent event," Borgos says.
3. Can my ex take out a life insurance policy on me?"In almost all scenarios, if someone will suffer financially when you die, they are eligible to take out a life insurance policy" on you, says Marvin Feldman, president and CEO of The LIFE Foundation. For example, if your ex benefits from your child support or alimony and can prove he or she would be financially affected if you died, then your ex is entitled to coverage, he says. But no one can secretly take out a life insurance policy on you. You have to provide your health history to the life insurance company and sign the insurance application. Here's more on the hurdles to taking out a secret life insurance policy.
4. I'm going to file for divorce -- can I kick my wife off my health plan without telling her?You wouldn't be alone in trying. "Individuals act selfishly and adversarial at times and drop spouses from health insurance," says Lili Vasileff, president of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners and president of Divorce & Money Matters LLC. Outside of your employer's open enrollment period, you can't remove a spouse from your health plan unless you become legally divorced. But after divorce proceedings begin court orders typically go into effect to prevent spouses from taking revenge on each other.
"This means no hanky-panky with hiding or transferring monies, changing assets or incurring major new debts, or changing existing insurance for family and spouse," Vasileff says.If you drop your wife from the health plan while the divorce is pending, you could be held in contempt of court.