Father dies, who pays for children’s health insurance now?

My wife’s ex-husband died recently.  He had carried the children on his health insurance, under the custody agreement.  Now that he is gone, do we have to pay the whole cost of the kids’ health insurance?  It seems like he got off the hook for a big expense by dying, not that he planned it that way but . . .   Also, I cover my wife on my plan at work.  Will they let me add her children or will we have to buy a separate plan for the kids?

Step Dad in Disarray

Dear Step Dad in Disarray,

Yes, you will now have to arrange for the children’s health insurance.  But you may not have to pay the whole cost.

Many divorce settlements require the parents to carry life insurance, so that if the person dies, the children’s needs can be fulfilled by the death benefit.  You will want to find out whether there was any life insurance on him, naming the children or your wife as the beneficiary (the one who gets the money).   The death benefit may have gone into a trust for the children; money can be taken from the trust to pay their expenses, such as health insurance.

The trust could pay for the cost of a separate policy or the cost of having the children covered on your policy from your employer.  It does not have to be the bio-parent’s policy; you, as the step-parent can add the children to your policy.

If there is no life insurance benefit, then the stepparent and surviving bio-parent would be faced with paying for the health insurance. Hopefully, there is some life insurance available.

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.