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Health Insurance and Child Support

Shep Law Group July 8, 2024

Following a separation or divorce, providing for the well-being of shared children is of paramount importance. As with financial contributions towards housing, education, and daily needs, health insurance coverage is also a significant aspect that both parents are expected to address.  

In Idaho, determining how health insurance affects child support calculations involves specific guidelines and considerations stipulated by state laws. At Shep Law Group, we provide the legal guidance you need to help you understand how health insurance can impact your child support obligations in Idaho. 

The Role of Health Insurance in Child Support 

Child support obligations in Idaho extend beyond just the basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. They often include support for education, childcare services, medical care, and health insurance. Since medical expenses can be unpredictable and significant, ensuring that children have adequate health insurance coverage is a vital condition when calculating child support. 

In Idaho, the court will require one or both parents to provide health insurance coverage. This often includes major medical, dental, and vision insurance. These generally cover the following: 

  • Medical insurance covers essential health benefits such as doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, and emergency services 

  • Dental insurance often extends to routine oral check-ups, cleanings, and various dental procedures needed to maintain a child's oral health 

  • Vision insurance may cover eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses 

The court places a strong emphasis on ensuring that the health insurance provided is comprehensive and capable of meeting the child's health needs. If the health insurance is only available through one parent's employment, that parent may be required to carry the coverage, provided it is accessible at a reasonable cost.  

In instances where both parents have access to insurance, the court might decide on a plan that offers the best overall coverage. Ensuring these aspects of health insurance are addressed helps protect the child's well-being and provides a structured approach to managing unforeseen medical expenses. 

Determining Reasonable Cost for Health Insurance 

In Idaho, courts take into account what constitutes a "reasonable cost" for health insurance. This concept is vital to ensuring that health insurance premiums do not become a financial burden on either parent while still providing necessary medical coverage for the child. 

The term "reasonable cost" generally refers to health insurance premiums that do not exceed a certain percentage of the parent's gross income. In Idaho, this standard percentage is typically set around 5% of the providing parent's gross income. However, this can vary based on the overall financial situation of both parents and the availability of health insurance plans. 

Courts will consider several factors when determining whether the cost of health insurance is reasonable. These include: 

  • Affordability: The premiums should be financially manageable for the parent required to provide the coverage. 

  • Comparative value: The cost should be weighed against the benefits provided, ensuring that the health insurance plan offers sufficient coverage for the child’s needs. 

  • Availability: If one parent’s employment offers more comprehensive or economical health insurance, the court may lean toward that option. 

  • Financial impact: The court will assess how the health insurance premiums affect the overall child support calculation and whether they allow the parent to still meet other essential financial obligations. 

Ultimately, the court aims to balance adequate health coverage with the realistic financial capacity of the parent. Ensuring that the cost is reasonable helps prevent scenarios where parents are unable to afford essential living expenses due to disproportionately high insurance premiums. At Shep Law Group, we can guide parents through these considerations to make sure that both the child's well-being and the financial fairness to each parent are secured. 

Factors Considered When Determining Health Insurance Provisions 

Beyond allocating health insurance responsibilities based on availability and "reasonable cost", Idaho courts consider several additional factors when deciding how health insurance should be provided. These primarily include:  

  • The child’s best interests: The court will always prioritize the child's well-being and ensure that they receive proper medical care.  

  • Any existing medical conditions: If a child has special needs or pre-existing medical conditions, the court may award additional support or order coverage for specific treatments and services. 

  • Parenting time: Custody and visitation arrangements may influence which parent is better positioned or equitably responsible for managing the child's health insurance. 

  • Consistency of coverage: The court may choose a plan that offers consistent coverage throughout the year rather than one with potential gaps or lapses in coverage. 

  • Continuation of existing healthcare providers: If possible, the court may opt for a health insurance plan that allows the child to continue seeing their current primary care physician or other medical specialists. 

At Shep Law Group, our family law attorney can help ensure that your child's health insurance needs are addressed fairly. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you protect your child's well-being.  

Health Insurance and Child Support FAQ 

What happens if health insurance is not available to either parent? 

If health insurance is not available to either parent at a reasonable cost, the court may require parents to pay for medical expenses directly as they arise or obtain coverage through other means, such as through a state or federal health insurance program. The court's primary concern is ensuring the child's medical needs are met, even if traditional health insurance is not an option. 

Are uncovered medical expenses shared even if one parent provides health insurance? 

Yes, uncovered medical expenses, such as deductibles, co-pays, and other out-of-pocket costs, are typically shared between parents proportionally to their incomes. Even if one parent provides health insurance, the cost of medical services not covered by the insurance policy is a shared responsibility to ensure that the child's health needs are adequately addressed. 

Can the court modify health insurance provisions after the child support order is issued? 

Yes, the court can modify health insurance provisions if there are significant changes in circumstances, such as changes in employment, income, or the availability of health insurance.  

Either parent can request a modification, and the court will reevaluate the situation to determine if adjustments to the health insurance requirements or child support payment amounts are necessary to continue meeting the child's best interests and financial needs. 

Seek Experienced Legal Counsel 

Health insurance is a fundamental part of ensuring a child's well-being and is an integral part of child support calculations. At Shep Law Group, we can help ensure that health insurance costs are correctly incorporated into your child support obligation and achieve an arrangement that serves your child's best interests. 

Located in Boise and Meridian, Idaho, reach out to us to schedule a free consultation and for more information on how we can assist with child support calculations. We serve clients throughout Ada County and Canyon County and handle cases statewide. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.