Everywhere you turn, it seems like someone is sick, getting sick, or just getting over being sick. The COVID-19 (the coronavirus) is spreading this year, causing widespread fear and panic. This is especially true for newly single adults without good insurance coverage, and more so for parents of children with an uncooperative co-parent.
Unfortunately, I have seen numerous situations where a child’s medical care has been put on hold because divorced parents could not get it together. I have seen arguments over who is supposed to carry health insurance, who has copies of the insurance information, and who gets to make healthcare decisions delay everything from routine physicals to urgent surgeries. It is not a pleasant experience, and in the end, the children are the ones who suffer the most.
You can avoid situations like these by getting your ducks in a row now. If you have a divorce or child custody order, follow these steps to make sure you are ready for a cold/flu/corona crisis:
- Take care of YOU. Before you can do anything for your family, you need to take care of yourself. If you are newly divorced, then you may have lost insurance coverage or other healthcare benefits through your former spouse’s employer. Make sure that you have a new insurance policy and a primary care physician who has all of your medical records. Execute your living will (aka healthcare directive) and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare so that your wishes are clear and you know who will be taking care of you if necessary.
- Understand your court order. If you share children with a co-parent, make sure you are crystal clear about what your court order says. You need to know who has authority to make healthcare decisions, who is carrying health insurance, and who is responsible for payment. This is important not only so that you know what to expect and/or demand of the other parent, but also to make sure you do not act in contempt of court yourself. If you have questions about your court order, a one-time session with a lawyer should help clear it up so that you know exactly what it says.
- Get the documents in order. If the other parent is responsible for carrying health insurance, are you sure they have an active policy? Do you know what that policy covers? Do you have a copy of the insurance card and other information you would need to seek emergency care? If not, you need to get this information and keep it in a safe place. If you are the one responsible for carrying insurance on your kids, have you given this information to the other parent? If not, doing so will be the best way to help prevent an allegation of contempt in the event of an emergency. If you cannot get the necessary information from the other parent, or if they will not accept it from you (yes, that really happens), contact a lawyer to help.
- Talk it out. If possible, talk through a crisis plan with your co-parent. Make sure you each know who your kids’ healthcare providers are, where you will go if they get sick, and how you will contact the other parent. Be on the same page with reminding your kids to wash their hands so that they have the same routine with both parents. Not all parents can co-parent this effectively, but if you can, it will help make cold and flu season much less stressful.
- Know your resources. The new coronavirus looks to be mandating a quarantine that could last for weeks. Do you have what you need to stay inside your house for that long? Have your delivery resources ready for prescriptions, groceries, and other supplies. Our favorite delivery services are Imperfect Foods, Hungryroot, and Amazon Prime.
Cold and flu season is stressful, and this year it is even more stressful because of the new virus. If you get your legal information in order now, you will save yourself a lot of stress and grief in the event of a healthcare situation later on down the road.
If you need to talk to a lawyer to get you ready for cold and flu season, call The Lien Law Firm at 314-722-8557. Our paperless practice allows for everything from paperwork to live meetings to be done virtually if you are concerned about germ transmission.