Covering 22-year-old son — pay his co-pays too?

We cover our 22-year-old son on my health insurance plan from my job.  The plan doesn’t pay for everything, but it’s pretty good.  My wife wants us to pay for his office visit co-pays and whatever else the plan doesn’t pay.  She thinks that since we are covering him, we are responsible for his medical bills.  I say he is an adult and could go out and get a job.  Who is right?

Boomeranged Dad

Dear Boomeranged Dad,

You are legally right, and your wife is emotionally right.

Thanks to health reform, you are allowed to cover children up to age 26.  The downside is that you end up in these situations where it is not clear who is responsible for what.

If the child is over age 18, then the parent is not responsible for the child’s medical bills or any other bills, for that matter. Your son is legally responsible for anything that the plan did not pay.

Your wife may feel that since you are providing the health plan, you should take care of all the related costs.  There is some logic to her thinking.  The counterargument is that when he does get his own health insurance, he will have to pay his own co-pays.

There is only so much coddling that you should do.  Otherwise, the cold cruel world will hit him that much harder.

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.