Are Grandparents Responsible for Health Insurance?

My wife and I recently took in our eight year old grandson. What should we do about health insurance for him?

An increasing number of grandparents are taking on the responsibility of the care and upbringing of their grandchildren. In fact, more than 100,000 grandparents in Ohio are raising their grandchildren today. How to provide for their health care is a pressing concern for many.Your options for health insurance for your grandson will depend on a number of factors, including your legal status and whether you have employer provided health insurance.

What is your legal relationship?  Is your arrangement to care for your grandchild informal or have you been established as his legal guardian or custodian? If you lack legal guardianship or custody of your grandchild, it is likely to be more difficult for you to seek medical insurance for him.

Will you claim your grandchild as a dependent on our federal income tax return?             You need to be aware that a grandparent who claims a grandchild as a dependent on his or her federal income tax return is responsible for obtaining health insurance for that child. The penalty for not insuring your grandchild can be costly.

Do you have employer provided health insurance?  If you are working and have insurance through your employer, contact your human resource department and health insurance company to find out whether your grandchild can be covered under your policy. There is no clear cut rule concerning insuring grandchildren. You will likely have to prove that you have legal guardianship of your grandchild in order for your insurance provider to accept him/her as a dependent child.

Other insurance options.  Relative caregivers may apply for free or low-cost health and dental insurance for the children they are raising through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides health coverage to eligible children through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. Check with your state insurance department to find out if your grandchild qualifies.

You can also look into purchasing a “child-only” policy on the Affordable Care Marketplace. Open Enrollment for Affordable Care is going on now through December 15 for coverage beginning January 1, 2018.

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