How long do I have to cover a child?

How long is a parent responsible for a child’s health care in Wisconsin?  Just because I can cover my 22-year-old daughter on my employer’s plan doesn’t mean that I want to.  She should stand on her own two feet at some point!

Apron Strings Untied

Dear Apron Strings Untied,

When she turned 18, she was legally considered to be an adult in Wisconsin. A hospital or doctor could not pursue you to pay her medical bills. There are other ways that a parent could be held responsible for an 18-year-old’s medical care. For example, if the parent had been court-ordered to provide health insurance as part of a child support order.

Under health reform, a parent can keep a child on his health insurance until he or she reaches age 26.  The child

  • Does not have to live with you or be declared as a dependent on your taxes;
  • Does not have to be a student;
  • Can be married (However, your employer’s plan does not have to offer coverage to the child’s spouse or family);
  • Can have a job (Until 2014, a grandfathered plan can refuse the child if he/she has a health plan offered by his employer.  There are very few “grandfathered” plans left: these are plans that have made no major changes since 2010.)

That aside, there’s nothing requiring you to keep her on your plan.  You might want to gently break the news to your daughter that the comfy apron strings are going away.

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.