Health insurance for minor children is an issue dealt with in the context of child support. If the children are presently covered under a plan through one of the parents, the children can remain on that plan. The other parent would then contribute to the premium being paid if applicable. This can be achieved by an increase over the guideline support amount if the party receiving support is paying the premium or a decrease if the parent who is receiving support is not the one providing the coverage. A change in which parent provides the coverage may be beneficial if one parent’s coverage is better than the other or less expensive but with similar coverage. Sometimes, the motive in changing plans is for the parent paying support to reduce the support paid directly to the other parent by adding the children to their plan instead.
If the children are receiving health insurance at no cost to either party it does not affect the guideline support amount. This may happen if one of the parents is employed by a company that covers 100% of the premium. This can also occur if the children are insured through a government program such as medical assistance or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). Health insurance is only to be provided by one of the parents if at a reasonable cost. The court does not go so far as to mandate health insurance regardless of the financial circumstances of the parties. Again, thanks to programs like CHIP it is possible to ensure the children have health insurance even if the parents cannot afford it. However, even parents should reconsider the financial consequence of not having health insurance given the enactment of the Affordable Health Care Act and the penalties of failing to obtain health insurance going forward. Subsidies may be available based on income to ensure health insurance coverage at a reasonable cost.