How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan as a Single Parent
3 min read •
30 sec brief
Families come in all shapes and sizes - and your health plan should fit your family accordingly. If you're a single parent, here are a few things you should consider when choosing a health plan for your family.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some are dual-parent, some are single-parent, some are blended and some don’t fall into any of these categories. When you’re a single parent, you’re often solely or mostly responsible for meeting your children’s needs and that can feel overwhelming - especially when it comes to health insurance. If you are the parent responsible for your children’s health insurance, here’s a guide to choosing the right plan for your family.
Step 1: What are your children's needs?
While it might feel comforting to have health insurance that pays the maximum for every possible scenario, all-encompassing plans aren’t always the most economic choice for families. You want a health insurance plan that covers more of the medical care you need and less of the care you don’t. So ask yourself: when have we needed medical care in the last two years? What are we likely to need in the coming year?
Step 2: What are the options that meet those needs?
Health insurance plans are broken up into four categories called tiers:
Bronze plans typically have the lowest premiums so the health plans are attractive, but they also have the highest out-of-pocket cost when you receive care and bronze deductibles can be thousands of dollars a year. Preventative medicine like wellness visits and vaccines are usually covered pre-deductible so if your children are generally healthy and see the doctor for wellness visits and the occasional illness like an ear infection or strep throat, this could be a good choice.
Silver plans typically have higher premiums than Bronze plans but more of your costs will be covered when you need healthcare. Silver deductibles are also usually lower than Bronze deductibles. Something to note about silver plans, is that you might qualify for cost-sharing benefits from the government. If you do, then you must order a Silver plan and your monthly premium could end up being cheaper than with a Bronze plan.
Gold health plans usually have high monthly premiums and low costs when you receive medical care. Gold plan deductibles are also usually low. If any of your children have conditions that need to be managed by a specialist, non-generic medication or with other medical care, a Gold health plan could be a good choice if you can afford the monthly premium.
Platinum plans have the highest monthly premium and the lowest costs when you get care (insurance usually pays about 90% of your costs). Platinum deductibles are also very low. Like Gold plans, Platinum plans are a good choice if your children require a lot of care and you can afford to pay high monthly premiums in order for more of that care to be covered.
If you need a little help deciding between health plans, check out Lively’s Health Plan Comparison Calculator.
Step 3: Who pays for what?
Whether or not you’re divorced, if you have primary or sole custody of the children, generally speaking, you are responsible for providing their primary health insurance. The exceptions to this rule are these:
- The other parent has employer-sponsored health insurance and you do not
- There’s been a court order for the other parent to provide primary health insurance for the children.
If you receive child support from the other parent, you can use that money to pay for:
- Surgery costs
- Dental braces
- Special healthcare for any special needs your children have
Step 4: Choose what's right for you
At the end of the day, the best health insurance plan will be the one at the nexus of what covers your children’s medical needs and what you can afford. You don’t want to be over-insured or insurance-poor. You want adequate coverage that allows you to have money for the other things in life.
About the author
Lauren Hargrave is a writer from San Francisco who focuses on technology, finance and wellness. She follows comedians like most people follow bands and believes an outdoor sweat session can cure almost any bad mood. She’s also been writing her first novel for so long, her mom doesn’t ask about it anymore.
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