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Home / Articles / Ask Amanda / Ask Amanda: My Husband is Hoarding the Health Insurance

Ask Amanda: My Husband is Hoarding the Health Insurance

Abuser won’t sign up wife, kids for insurance through his job

  • By
  • Apr 05, 2017
Ask Amanda: My Husband is Hoarding the Health Insurance

Q: My husband turned down health insurance at his new job for myself and my two sons. I didn't know this until last week after the federal enrollment deadline had passed. He signed himself up. Is this legal? We have always been covered under his employers in the past. —Tamara

Tamara, I consulted with Nick Stevens, a family law attorney in Chattanooga, Tenn., who said that, unfortunately, there’s no legal requirement for your husband to include you and your children on his employer’s health insurance plan. If you’re currently filing for separation or divorce from him, says Stevens, “this, combined with other [abusive behaviors] could be used as evidence of abuse in court,” which may help you in certain proceedings, such as child custody or receiving an order of protection.

Another point to consider: If a custody dispute develops, raising your husband’s decision as proof he is an abuser might be one way to gain insurance because he won't want the judge to understand his motives.

But as far as whether or not a court can order him to include his family under his employer’s health insurance immediately, Stevens says he doesn’t think that’s likely.

So, where does that leave you and your children? Under the Affordable Care Act, as long as you can afford health insurance, you are required to purchase coverage. Otherwise, you may face a penalty when filing your tax returns. (Note: This may change under the current administration by the time of publication.)

The kicker is, the deadline for signing up for a 2017 health insurance plan was on Jan. 31. You won’t be able to sign up again until Nov. 1 for 2018 coverage. There are a few exceptions, however:

If one of these applies to you and you want to know more, you can get help from by calling their Marketplace Call Center, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-318-2596.

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If none of these apply to you, your next option might be looking at short-term health insurance, which is available in all but five states (New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont). There are pluses and minuses to short-term coverage, which you can read about here. You have quite a few options for short-term coverage—UnitedHealthcare and eHealthInsurance are two companies that offer it. Short-term coverage isn’t regulated under the Affordable Care Act, so it’s available regardless of what changes President Trump makes to the ACA going forward.

And, if you can’t afford coverage, you can see if you quality for free or low-cost healthcare through Medicaid.

Tamara, let’s also address the fact that your husband withholding health insurance coverage is an abuse tactic. He’s using this as a way to exert power and control over you, and to make you feel helpless and isolated. It sounds like coercive control, and there may very well be other types of abusive behaviors he’s inflicting on you. I urge you to reach out to a trained domestic violence advocate near you by entering your city or ZIP on this page. Even if you don’t need shelter, advocates can talk to you about what you’re going through and help you safety plan should you feel like you’re in danger or are thinking about leaving.

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Ask Amanda is meant to offer helpful resources and information about domestic violence. If in crisis, please reach out to your nearest domestic violence shelter for the guidance of a trained advocate.