Children have two plans — which one pays first

My children are covered by my ex-husband’s plan and by my plan.  The divorce decree requires him to cover the kids; I kept them on my plan because he changes jobs a lot and I wanted to be sure they had coverage.  We got a letter from his plan turning down the kids’ doctor’s office visit, stating that my plan was supposed to pay and not his.

I feel like his plan should pay first, and not mine.  I’ve done enough to take care of the children and he’s done too little.  Why is his plan refusing to pay?  And can I get them to pay first?

Put Upon Mom

Dear Put Upon Mom,

It is possible that your insurance will pay before your ex-husband’s no matter what the divorce decree states. Most insurers use what is called the “birthday rule”. The plan of the parent whose birthday occurs first in the calendar year is considered the primary (or first) payer for the children’s needs. The other parent’s plan pays second.  Your birthday must be earlier than his in the year.

You could consider dropping the children from your plan and banking the money you spend on premiums. It’s expensive to cover the children on two plans.  Since your ex is skippy on the job front, maybe you want to have the divorce decree revised.  You cover the children for health insurance while he pays the co-pays and increases his child support.

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.