child at dentistMEDICAL SUPPORT

I just could not believe it. I got a collection notice from our doctor. I called the doctor’s office and they told me they had not received the insurance check. They told me I was responsible for payment because I brought the children in for health care. I called the insurance company and they told me they had sent the insurance claim money to my ex- husband over two months ago. I called him, after a difficult and loud conversation, he finally admitted he had cashed the insurance check, spent the money rather than paying the kids doctor bills. Now what do I do? – Sandy, mother of Jake and Carrin

COLLECTING MEDICAL SUPPORT**

Medical support is a form of child support often provided as health care insurance under a parent’s policy. The child support order may provide for a specific dollar amount to be deducted for medical purposes as well.

Medical support can take several forms. The non-custodial parent may be ordered to do one or more of the following:

  • Provide health insurance if available through the non-custodial parent’s employer.
  • Pay for private health insurance (healthcare coverage) premiums.
  • Reimburse the custodial parent for all or a portion of the costs of health insurance obtained by the custodial parent.
  • Pay additional amounts to cover a portion of ongoing medical bills or as reimbursement for uninsured medical costs.Current law requires every child support order entered by a State child support enforcement agency to include a provision for health care coverage. States are required to include provisions for health care coverage in their child support guidelines, and the child support enforcement program is required to pursue private health care coverage when such coverage is available through a non-custodial parent’s employer at a reasonable cost.Specifically, federal law defines medical support as health insurance available to non-custodial parent from employer at a reasonable cost.
  • The law fails to define reasonable.
  • There is a medical support order form all States are required to use.
  • Interstate insurance companies must accept out-of-state medical support orders for insurance.
  •  Government child support agencies are required to sign up kids, and obtain insurance claim ID cards for child(ren) if the non-custodial parent does not.
  • •Medical support can be part of a temporary order, divorce decree, paternity decree, or separation order.

If your current order does not have a requirement for medical insurance for the children or arrangements for payment of medical bills or you do not have a court order of any kind, you can get one by:

1. Contacting the government child support agency (IV-D) and completing an application. ` ~OR~

2. If you already have a case open at the government agency, you can request a modification of your child support order to include medical support.

~ OR ~
3. You can hire a private attorney to obtain a medical support order.

~ OR ~
4. You can represent yourself in court (pro se).

ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN MEDICAL SUPPORT ORDERS

  • A requirement that (if non-custodial parent is to have medical insurance for the children) you are provided insurance claim forms, insurance identification cards and policy numbers, or any other paperwork that you may need to cover your children, annually.
  • Immediate notice to you by the non-custodial parent if the insurance lapses for any reason.
  • A specific listing of how bills are to be paid if not covered by the medical insurance, or if none is available to either parent.For example, an order could say–

Medical insurance pays 80% of medical bills, the remaining 20% is:

Divided equally between the parents
Paid in full by the non-custodial parent, or
20% paid by the custodial parent and 80% by the non-custodial parent.

COLLECTING BACK MEDICAL BILLS OWED

There is no current federal requirement for the child support agency to help you collect past due medical bills.

You can represent yourself in court or hire a private attorney to collect the past due bills.

If you have a court ordered lump sum judgment for medical bills, the government child support agency must collect on the judgment for you.

REPRESENTING YOURSELF IN COURT

You must file a motion with the court. In some counties, the Clerk of Courts has pre-printed forms you can use. In other places, you must make your own forms. Check with your local legal library (at a local University or at the courthouse) to see samples of forms used in your county and/or look or online.

• Type form or use pre-printed form provided by the Clerk of Courts (Example).

• Take the form to the Clerk of Courts and file. There is usually a small fee. If you can not afford the filing fee, you can submit an affidavit of poverty stating that you are living at or below the poverty level.

• The Clerk of Courts will legally notify the defendant in the court hearing by certified mail or personal service of the legal papers and notify you of the court date.

At the hearing, have your medical bills well-organized. The court will want to see the original bills received from the doctors, hospitals, etc. In addition to bringing the medical bills to court, make a written list which includes:

Name of Health Care Provider Child’s Name

Date
Amount of Bill

Amount Paid by Health Insurance Amount Due
Amount Due from Non-custodial Parent Total*

*This will help the judge easily identify what’s due.

You will need three (3) copies of all the bills and the list. Give one copy to the non-custodial parent, one copy to their attorney, and keep a copy for yourself. Give the court the originals.

Be specific when asking the court what you want, such as:

  • Payment in full in 30 days or an increase in support payments to pay off medical bills.
  • Judgment for the amount due.

** Low Income and don’t have Medical Support or Health Insurance Coverage for your kids? Help is available through the CHIPS program

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