Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Hiding a divorce from insurer leads to fraud charges

Sometimes people still retain enough affection for their ex-spouses that they're willing to help them through a time of crisis. That isn't always a bad thing -- unless you break the law to do it.

A Michigan man and his ex-wife were both convicted of felony health care fraud after they apparently concealed their divorce from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the medical insurance provider, so that the ex-wife could continue receiving coverage.

The ex-husband, a former police chief and director of public safety, tried to claim that he believed his ex-wife was entitled to coverage because he had been ordered to provide her with insurance until she could get some of her own. However, the ex-wife's former boyfriend reluctantly testified that he'd been witness to arguments between the formerly married couple where the ex-wife's illegal use of the insurance was discussed. For her part, the ex-wife claimed to be married on hospital admission forms well after her divorce was finalized.

Ultimately, the ex-wife racked up over $110,000 in insurance expenses between 2014 and 2016, when the insurer finally contacted police about the possible fraud.

While it's impossible to know his motives for certain, it's likely that the ex-husband was conflicted about leaving the mother of his two children without insurance during a time when she clearly needed it -- even though they were no longer married. It was probably also cost-prohibitive to provide her with insurance through a private vendor, rather than keeping her listed as his wife on his employer-provided plan.

Insurance concerns are not exactly an uncommon issue for divorcing couples, especially when one spouse has health issues. However, a smarter alternative to insurance fraud would be a legal separation.

Unlike divorce, a legal separation allows a couple to split their assets and deal with most of the important issues involved in a divorce, such as spousal support, child support, custody and visitation, without ending the marriage. That preserves the right to some important benefits, including health care through a spouse's insurance policy.

There are also other good reasons for choosing a legal separation over divorce -- if you have questions, an attorney can provide the answers you need.

Source: thedailynews.com, "Former Greenville police chief pleads to health care fraud," May 25, 2017

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