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Important considerations for your child's health care

While many parents focus on a parenting time schedule, there are other aspects of child custody that have to be considered, such as medical care. Even if your children are healthy, they are likely going to get sick. They will also need regular preventative care. Making plans now can help you know what to do going forward.

There are many aspects of health care that you need to think about. These are common for all children, but you may have to add more to the list if you have a child who has special medical needs or is medically complex.

Decision-making power

Medical care requires parents to make decisions. These can include immunizations the child needs and what will happen in a medical emergency. There should be something in the child custody order that outlines who is responsible for these decisions. One parent might have all the power, but it is also possible that both will share the duties.

A plan must also be made for when the child has a medical emergency. Can the parent who is with the child make decisions about care on their own or must they wait on the other parent? How will the non-present parent be notified of the emergency and when?

Health insurance

Typically, one parent will be responsible for carrying the child on their health insurance. This must be handled right away. Any changes in the coverage, carrier or other aspects of the insurance should be communicated freely to the other parent. Health insurance cards and information should be available to both parents so the child can receive care whenever necessary.

Out-of-pocket expenses

Not all medical bills are covered by insurance. Planning how to pay for co-pays, deductibles and uninsured medical costs is necessary. In many cases, the parent who is with the child will have to pay these bills. All or part of them might be reimbursed by the other parent. This is sometimes done on a percentage basis where each parent is responsible for a certain portion of the bill.

In other cases, it might be done by assigning one parent a specific dollar amount to cover per month or year. Once that is passed, the other parent is responsible for the remaining costs of the term.

Minor illnesses

You also need to make a plan for what will happen if the child has to miss school or daycare due to an illness. This might be done on a case-by-case basis, depending on which parent has to work or who is free. Sometimes, a family member, such as the child's grandparent will be able to watch them while they are under the weather. It is a good idea to have a basic idea of what is going to happen so you are ready if the time comes.

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