Child Support Health Insurance

How can a parent enforce a requirement of the other parent to provide health insurance coverage?

Significant changes were made to Washington law in 2009 regarding parents’ responsibility to provide child support health insurance for their children. Whenever a Child Support Order is entered or modified in conjunction with a divorce or legal separation, the court will require both parents to provide medical support for any child named in the Order of Child Support as provided in RCW 26.09.105.

What is medical child support?

Medical support consists of health insurance coverage and cash medical support. Cash medical support includes a parent’s monthly payment toward the health insurance premium paid for coverage by either the parent or the state and a parent’s proportionate share of uninsured medical expenses. “Uninsured medical expenses” include premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, along with other health care costs not covered by insurance.

What is the responsibility of each parent?

The court will determine which parent must provide coverage and which parent must contribute a monthly payment toward the premium. If both parents have health insurance coverage available, and if the coverage is accessible to the child, the court can order the parent with the better health insurance coverage to provide it for the child and order the other parent to contribute a monthly payment toward the premium.

A parent’s monthly payment toward the premium is usually limited to twenty-five percent of that parent’s basic child support obligation unless the court determines it is in the best interests of the child to order a parent to provide coverage that exceeds twenty-five percent. Under appropriate circumstances, the court may excuse one parent from the responsibility to provide health insurance coverage or from a monthly payment toward the premium. However, the court will always require both parents to contribute their proportionate share of the cost of uninsured medical expenses.

Court Ordered Health Insurance Compliance

A parent who is ordered to maintain or provide health insurance coverage may comply with that requirement by providing proof of accessible private insurance or providing coverage that is available to the parent through employment or that is union-related, as long as the cost does not exceed twenty-five percent of that parent’s basic support obligation. The DSHS Division of Child Support may attempt to enforce a parent’s obligation to provide health insurance coverage.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, parents must maintain health insurance coverage until the child is emancipated or until health insurance is no longer available through the parents’ employer or union and no conversation privileges exist to continue coverage following termination of employment.

For more information on court ordered health insurance, see RCW 26.09.105 and RCW 26.18.

Do you have child support health insurance questions or concerns?

If you need help understanding a child support court order or preparing for a child support hearing, consult an experienced divorce attorney at Integrative Family Law in Seattle. Call us at 206.859.6800.


Nothing on this page is intended as legal advice for an individual.
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