Rhode Island Has enacted the Rhode Island Health Insurance Continuation act. This act allows a person to remain on their ex-husband or ex-wives health Insurance after Final Judgment of Divorce.
Unfortunately, this act has been watered down by recent case law out of the Federal Court District of Rhode Island. The case of Duclos v. General Dynamics Corp., 12 E.B.C. (BNA) 2648 (D.R.I. 1990) stands for the proposition that The Rhode Island health Insurance Continuation act is Preempted by ERISA. ERISA is a Federal Statute. Under Common Law, if a federal statute and state statute relate to similar topics, Federal Law may preempt state law. The Federal Preemption Doctrine is “a doctrine in law that allows a federal law to take precedence over or to displace a state law in certain matters of national importance (as interstate commerce)” Dictionary.com
Duclos v. General Dynamics Corp., 12 E.B.C. (BNA) 2648 (D.R.I. 1990) ruled that the “Rhode Island statute requiring certain divorced spouses to be granted continuation health coverage without additional premiums was preempted by ERISA…” Quoted from Charles Shulman, Esq. “EBEC (Employee Benefits / Executive Compensation) Law Update”
Despite the Duclos ruling, many Rhode Island Employers allow an ex spouse to remain on health insurance coverage after Final Judgment of Divorce. Many employers are prohibiting ex spouses from coverage after final Judgment of Divorce relying on the Duclos case. My Understanding is that Blue Cross Blueshield of Rhode Island allows an ex spouse to remain on health insurance after Final Judgment of Divorce.
During the pendency of the divorce, the parties should determine the employers policy and procedures related to continuation of coverage after Final Judgment of Divorce. If possible, they should seek the company policy in writing from the Companies benefits administrator. The Obligations of Rhode Island based companies to comply with the Rhode Island Health Insurance Continuation Act is beyond the scope of this Article.
If a spouse will be remaining on his or her ex spouse’s insurance then the following language should and must be put on the record at the Rhode Island Nominal Divorce Hearing and be memorialized into the Decision Pending Entry of Final Judgment as well as the Final Judgment of Divorce: