There is a lot of confusion regarding the payment of health insurance premiums and uncovered healthcare expenses in relation to child support. The confusion lies in whether child support covers medical costs that are not covered by insurance and can the parent that pays health insurance premiums for the children get a contribution from the other parent? The answer to both of these questions is “no” and the reason for this is discussed below.
Health Insurance Premiums
In California, child support is calculated according to a guideline formula. As discussed in previous posts, guideline support is determined by the parties’ gross incomes and the timeshare with the children. When calculating guideline child support, the parties do get deductions allowed by statute such as mortgage interest, union dues, mandatory retirement and health insurance premiums. Therefore, the parties’ health insurance premiums, whether for health, dental or vision, are included in the calculation to determine child support. The inclusion of the health insurance generally causes a reduction in child support if paid by the payor or an increase if paid by the recipient of child support. Since the health insurance was included in the child support calculation it would be improper to then allow the payor of such premiums to seek a contribution from the other parent. It would be essentially “double dipping”. The best way to see this is to run guideline child support with and without the health insurance deduction and you will see the difference.
Uncovered Medical Costs
Many parents that pay child support believe that they do not have to contribute to uncovered medical costs since the other parent is receiving child support which should be used to pay such costs. Although that belief may seem logical it is not the law in California. In California, the court shall order as additional child support that each party pay one-half of any uncovered health care costs. These health costs include medical, vision, dental and orthodontics. On its face it may seem unfair but when you take another look at it, it is very fair. Out-of-pocket or uncovered healthcare costs can be very high. For example, costs related to surgery, MRIs, wisdom teeth extractions and braces can be very high (sometimes thousands of dollars) and to make the parent who receives child support be solely responsible for such payments would be unfair.
In sum, many payors of child support believe it is unfair that they have to pay one-half of uncovered health care costs and cannot seek a contribution to health care premiums that they pay. However, when you see the reasoning behind these laws it is easy to see that the laws are fair and just. Make sure if you are the payor of child support that you save money for uncovered medical costs so the no adverse actions are taken against you if you cannot pay.
DISCLAIMER: The above article is for informational and educational use only and is not intended to be legal advice in any way. If legal advice is needed, please consult with an attorney.