The Federal government and Illinois require that under the circumstances of a divorce or legal separation, companies who employ twenty or more employees, both full- and part-time, on at least fifty percent of the working days in the previous calender year, must offer their employees, spouses, ex-spouses and/or dependents of the divorced or separated employees an option to continue their group health coverage.
This law is commonly referred to as COBRA, and it is a labor law not an insurance law.
After a divorce or legal separation is entered, Qualifying Event Notices are sent to the employee and (ex) spouse or proper dependent child by certified and first class mail within fourteen days of the Qualifying Event (i.e. the divorce or legal separation).
The covered employee, (ex)spouse or dependent who ceases to be a beneficiary under the plan must then notify the employer or insurance plan administrator, within sixty days, of their intent to continue under the plan for a maximum continuation term of thirty-six months. At the elapse of thirty-six months, it is presumed the beneficiary will have secured alternate insurance protection.
Please note, there is generally no obligation on the covered employee to provide payment for the COBRA benefits made available to their ex-spouse or dependents, and as a consequence, unless specifically negotiated for by the a party's attorney, the COBRA beneficiary will be expected to pay for their additional coverage received during this thirty-six month extension.