Grandparent Holding GranchildAs family structures change and harsh economic conditions prevail, many grandparents find themselves being responsible for the care and upbringing of their grandchildren. As you probably know by now, healthcare costs for children can be a huge financial drain.

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer about insurance for grandchildren. Depending on your state of residence, your insurance plan, and your employer’s health insurance policies, the position will vary. So the easiest and most reliable way to find out is to call around and ask.

As you get your information, make sure to double check so as to cover all your bases as you seek the best health insurance options for your grandchildren.

How can I get health insurance for my grandchildren?

If your children are unable to provide health insurance for your grandchildren, you might have a few options available to you.

The easiest way to get health insurance for your grandchildren might be through your employer. Talk to the human resource department or the officer responsible for health insurance decisions to find out if your company will allow you to add your grandchildren to your policy. This might require some monetary contribution on your part.

If this is not possible, look into what governmental options are available. Do some research to find out if your grandchildren will qualify for your resident state’s affordable Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or the federal Medicaid program. While the terms and conditions will differ depending on your state of residence, they are required by law to cover children up to the age of 19. The insurance pays for diagnostic healthcare, hospital stays, and medication.

These programs also cover well-child visits that include all the required screenings, vaccinations, and treatments that children with health insurance also receive but requirements vary from state to state. While some states will consider your income as part of their decision process for qualification, legal guardianship is not usually a factor.

You will be able to get more information about health insurance for your grandchildren by talking to their pediatrician, a health clinic, or a social worker. Additionally, you can find relevant information by researching on the Insure Kids Now website or contacting the agency toll-free at 1-877-KIDS-NOW. You will be able to find state-specific CHIP and Medicaid program information.

Another option is to get a separate health insurance plan for your grandchildren. Talk to your health insurance company and ask them about any plans they might have available. Since there are no explicit laws that prohibit insurance companies from providing grandparents with the option of paying for the insurance of their grandchildren, you might be able to either add them to your policy or buy a stand-alone policy for them.

Do I need legal paperwork to get medical insurance for my grandchildren?

Again, the answer varies from state to state. Since the laws about medical consent are not standardized across the country, you will have to talk to the right people–including doctors, clinics or hospitals, social workers, and lawyers–to get reliable information.

The lack of legal guardianship or custody of your grandchildren is likely to make things difficult as you try to seek medical insurance for them.

If their parents are in the picture, you might be able to get medical care and insurance if they sign off on a legal affidavit that proclaims that you are taking care of the children. If not, you are required to prove that you made the effort to find the parents before the authorities allow you to make medical decisions for your grandchildren.

What does legal guardianship of my grandchild or grandchildren mean?

To prove that your grandchildren are your dependents, you are required to meet a certain set of rules. These expectations are not meant to be set in stone and can change. However, at the time of decision-making about guardianship, you should make good-faith claims about their care.

Legal guardianship implies that you are expecting to take care of all the needs of your grandchild till they reach adulthood. This includes his or her board and lodging, education, and other daily needs. This also implies that your grandchild is living with you full-time and has a parental relationship with you rather than their biological parents.

Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, your grandchild is allowed to remain under your health insurance policy till the age of 26.

Another guardianship and health insurance dilemma arises in the case of a teenage pregnancy. In such cases, your child’s pregnancy care is covered, including any neonatal treatments, OB-GYN visits, possible C-section, and hospital stay, assuming that you claim her as a dependent on your policy.

Your grandchild will not be covered automatically under your health insurance policy unless you claim him or her as your legal dependent. It is very prudent that you do your research about health care insurance options before the child is born.

Healthcare for children can be very expensive. So take the time to talk to the right people so that you get the best insurance plan available for your grandchildren.