COMMENTARY: Covering the kids on your insurance

 By Marie E. Matyjaszek

With all of the press surrounding Obamacare and health insurance plan compliance, it led me to thinking about divorced or separated couples covering their kiddos on their health insurance (because the law is what an attorney day dreams about).  

Often times the court only requires one parent to provide the insurance, for a variety of reasons. One parent’s plan may be too expensive, or the benefits may not be as good as the other’s coverage. The individual incomes of each parent, whether they fall below a certain percentage of the federal poverty level, and if the child is covered by Medicaid, also are factors for the court to consider.

Both parents may have a legal obligation to provide coverage for their children, if available at reasonable cost. The word “reasonable” is quite open to interpretation in all areas of the law (and life in general), but luckily for all of us, the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual spells that out. A “reasonable cost” for health care coverage is no more than 5 percent of that parent’s gross income.

Talking about health care insurance routinely raises one’s blood pressure when you contemplate what you pay for coverage and what the insurance company provides you with in benefits. It seems like the companies deny claims right and left despite the enormous premiums you pay each year. I regularly feel like I need a drink after getting off the phone with my insurance company. Many parents cover the children on their health insurance regardless of whether it falls within the 5 percent dollar amount, because they make too much money to qualify for a government assisted plan but don’t want their children to go without coverage.

If you cover your children on your health care insurance and either receive or pay child support, be certain to include that coverage amount for child support calculation purposes. The parent paying for the health care coverage will receive a credit (read:  deduction) in the formula if he pays support, or a premium adjustment payment (read: additional support monies) if he receives support. Additionally, if the cost of your health care skyrockets at each yearly open enrollment, you may wish to have child support reviewed based on this new, higher cost that you are contributing.

For those of you who might be worried that you are paying a premium adjustment to your ex and reimbursing her for her personal health care coverage, don’t fret. The child support formula calculates the cost for the children only based on the number of individuals on the policy.

One last bit of medical advice:  the next time you have to call up your insurance company to find out why your son’s asthma medication isn’t covered anymore, pour that drink before you pick up the phone.

If you are interested in learning more, or downloading a free copy of the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual and its supplement, you can find them both on the Michigan Courts One Court of Justice website:


Marie E. Matyjaszek is a family law attorney whose blog site is: She can be reached by e-mailing her at