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Features for Senior Citizens

How Can I Get Health Coverage for My Grandchildren?

When an adult child is out of work, grandparents may need to step up to help the grandchildren

July 25, 2014 – A reader of the Insuring Your Health column has come up with an unusual question, or maybe it is not that unusual. The question is, “How can I get health coverage for my grandchildren?” Michelle Andrews has the answer and it may be one many grandparents need.

Q. My son has lost his job and my grandchildren, ages 5 and 6, are without health insurance. I am a retired schoolteacher and might be able to afford coverage for them. What are my options?

A. Your grandchildren have a couple of coverage possibilities. Assuming your son’s income is low or non-existent now because he’s out of work, the kids would likely be eligible for coverage under their state Medicaid or CHIP program for low-income children. Income eligibility varies by state, but it’s typically between 200 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level (currently $39,580 to $49,475 for a 3-person family).


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If the kids don’t qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, all three of them may qualify for subsidized family coverage on the state marketplace, says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation).

Under the health law, your son’s loss of on-the-job health insurance creates a “special enrollment period” for him to sign up for coverage there. If his estimated income for this year will be less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level (currently $78,120 for a family of three) he may qualify for subsidies.

If it’s just the kids’ coverage you’re concerned about, you can investigate child-only policies on the state marketplace. Log onto to get connected to your state marketplace and find details about child-only plans as well as family coverage and Medicaid/CHIP.


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Finally, if you have private retiree coverage, it’s possible--but unlikely--that you could insure your grandchildren as dependents on your own plan, says Pollitz.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.


Some of this information is reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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