Healthcare, including the myriad of bills that can pop up from just one doctor’s visit, can be complicated to manage. As a divorced parent, managing it for your child across two different households adds an additional degree of difficulty.
You don’t have to resign yourself to the aggravation, though. Your proactive planning, communication, and organization now can ensure smoother sailing in the future for your child’s medical treatments, payments, and child support funds.
Here’s what to know regarding co-parenting, child support, and medical expenses. Plus, how technology in the form of a co-parenting app can make organizing, requesting money, and reimbursing more seamless and fuss-free.
The amount a parent pays for health insurance for their child will factor into a court-ordered child support package. To help the court award money as fairly as possible, it is important that you and your ex-spouse consider all potential expenses related to raising your children. Medical bills and insurance are two of those costly considerations.
A broad range of expenses can fall under the medical expenses umbrella. When planning for future medical costs with your co-parent, consider the cost of their primary care physicians as well as dental and eye care visits.
Even with great insurance, uninsured medical expenses may still be incurred. These are expenses that insurance doesn’t cover and include things like co-pays, deductibles, prescriptions, and adaptive devices (wheelchairs, hearing aids, etc.)
Typically, only those expenses deemed “medically necessary” get factored into child support payments. For example, braces are usually considered elective procedures and do not get factored in.
This means that, despite insurance and child support funds, you and your co-parent will still need to decide how to share these additional out-of-pocket medical expenses. Usually, parents split a child’s bills equally or by some other income-based ratio. However, one parent will typically end up paying the total bill upfront, and the other parent will reimburse their part later.
Different states have different laws regarding uninsured medical expenses. Generally speaking, sharing uninsured medical expenses will depend a lot on your court-approved agreement, which is why it is so important to think of those potential costs ahead of time.
For children with ongoing health concerns requiring at-home care and special supplies, it is even more imperative that you and your co-parent remain as open and cooperative as possible so that there is no gap in your child’s medical care.
Make sure both households stay stocked with necessary supplies. Maintain current communication regarding any new or old medical details such as past incidents and upcoming appointments. Keep pertinent information such as health insurance, social security numbers, doctor’s name and number, and emergency contact numbers in an easy-to-find place in both households. Also, let your child’s doctors know about your divorce and give them permission to communicate with both parents about the child.
Typically after a divorce, parents must decide which parent’s health insurance plan the child should be on. This decision can depend on different factors within your family, such as the child’s age, and your state laws.
If you and your co-parent both have health insurance through your employers, then it’s possible that your child can be listed on both of your plans. One plan will be assigned as the primary and the other as secondary, covering expenses that the primary insurance doesn’t.
If only one parent provides health insurance, make sure your legal counsel knows about it so that child support gets adjusted accordingly and fairly.
In cases where a child isn’t covered by insurance through either parents’ employer, separate insurance must be obtained for the child. Both parents will likely be responsible for paying the associated premiums.
If you and your co-parent cannot afford health insurance for your child, check out alternative options such as the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, assisting low-income individuals, families, children, the elderly, differently-abled, and pregnant women with free or low-cost health insurance.
With your child’s future doctor visits, insurance needs, and any special home care in mind, you and your co-parent need a dependable way to organize your billing, payment, and reimbursement methods in a way that’s easy and conflict-free.
Luckily, there are many great applications (apps) in website or mobile formats created with divorced parents in mind.
With a co-parent expense app, you and your co-parent can easily send and receive bills for expenses like doctor visits and co-pays. Payments go straight into the co-parent’s bank account without money ever having to physically exchange hands.
Even more convenient, all of the information shared through the app is saved, giving both parents easy access to monetary records, making reimbursement a breeze.
Medical expenses are a cost that should not be overlooked when you and your co-parent discuss the financial intricacies of splitting your household.
Just because medical expenses can be complicated doesn’t mean that paying them has to be as well. Taking smart steps now can make your life simpler moving forward.