Niece not getting care — what can aunt do?

My sister has two children from two different fathers.  Her daughter, my niece, was born addicted to drugs.  She doesn’t seem to be having problems, but my sister is not going to the well-baby checkups and getting the right shots.  She says it’s too expensive.  What can I do?  Can I cover my niece on my health plan?

Caring Auntie

Dear Caring Auntie,

The simplest option is to ask your sister to let you take the child to the well-baby visits and pay for them yourself.  She could sign a simple, hand-written letter stating that you are allowed to speak on your sister’s behalf to the doctor.  As long as your involvement was just with well-baby visits, this might suffice.  If your niece needs more complex care, then you would likely need a more formal document.

The options are much more complicated to insure your niece.  You could buy a health insurance plan for her, though child-only plans are relatively rare.   You would have to adopt your niece and have legal responsibility for her, in order to cover her as a dependent on your plan.   If her parents cannot afford health insurance, you could help them find out whether your niece qualifies for Medicaid. Medicaid covers children in low-income families.

Try visiting and going through the questionnaire. It will show you the options available in your state.

Your niece is blessed to have a caring aunt.  I’m sure you will find a way to help her and her health.


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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.