April 13, 2009,
C.U. asks from Cypress, TX on April 10, 2009
How Much Dental Insurance Coverage Is the Ex-wife Entitled to for Her Daughter?
My husband's ex-wife recently got braces for her daughter. She paid up-front, and we are receiving checks in the mail that are apparently supposed to go back to her for paying for these braces up front. I have no problem with sending her money that is actually her's. My concern is whether or not she is going to take all of our benefits for the year. What I mean is, will the purchase of the braces deplete the coverage for other benefits that we receive through our dental insurance? If one of my children has a cavity, for example, will the services to fill that cavity be out of pocket for us, because his ex-wife has used up all of our benefits on this one child? I DO have a problem with that. It is not like her daughter HAS to have braces. I believe it is mostly elective. If she may be depleting our resources in our dental insurance, how much of it is she entitled to? There are 4 children, total, and then me and my husband on this plan. Would that translate into their daughter receiving 1/6 of the benefits? I'm not very good at understanding insurance coverage. So I'm wondering if there is a lawyer out there who might be able to tell me how this would work, or someone who knows a lot about insurance coverage.
So What Happened?™
I think some things neeed to be clarified here. The reason for the bitter tone in the original response was that I was asking, simply, whether or not this would effect our coverage for everyone else. It's not about being selfish. It's about looking out for the good of everyone. I have a bitter tone because some people are being nosey about relationships in this family. It is to be expected that so many are going to buy into the idea that I'm the "wicked stepmother" simply because I'm the stepmother. I would like to know if they have some Cinderella stories in defense of the stepmother, as I haven't seen any out there. I love the movie, "Stepmom", with Julia Roberts, as it paints a clearer picture of the dynamics of most blended families. The reason for the wording is to keep from confusing people. She is their daughter, and she is our daughter, just as well. You have to understand how manipulative his ex-wife can be, and how I always have to make sure I'm doing the right thing. She failed to file the court papers, in order for him to pay child support to the correct party. He always assumed, since he never received a copy of the divorce decree (because she never filed the papers like she was supposed to), that he was to pay her the support directly. The courts look into that, often, as a "gift". I don't understand the courts sometimes. Who, in their right mind, is giving gifts to someone they just divorced? Consistent paymets in the same amount every month are not gifts. They're obviously child support payments. There aren't too many people out there that are that generous. Anyhow, we've finally gotten all of that rigermarole (sp?) straightened out. I have to make sure she's not pulling another one of these stunts, telling us to pay her, when we're supposed to pay the orthodontist, etc. I believe we're probably supposed to pay her, because of the fact that she said she paid up front. There is no telling with her. She isn't always the most honest person. When I married him, she almost immediately started asking if she was entitled to a portion of my income. The audacity. Yes, I know this affects OUR daughter in question (to clear things up, we're talking about my step daughter). I know that's going to be accused as coming off sarcastic, but it wasn't intended that way. It's going to affect her regardless as to what I do. I, myself, am a product of a divorce. I know that the children are the victims. Which is really, really bad. I am not trying to make my step-daughter a victim. I am trying to keep from having someone manipulate my husband for the umpteenth time. If my step-daughter thinks that my husband is being a bad dad, it's because of the picture that his ex-wife has painted in her head. That should fall on her, not on us. We have so many grooves on our tongue because we've had to bite it numerous times with the things her mother has said about him or me, or us as a couple. The truth will be very clear once she is an adult, and she's already seeing right through her mother's schemes. She used to come to our house, always wanting me to take her shopping. I would take her shopping, from time to time. She'd also do this to her Nana (his mother). Her mom had put it in her head that we all have this huge amount of money on our hands that we just have to get rid of. Daddy sat her down, and told her exactly how much money goes to her mom every month. She has, since then, stopped asking for the shopping trips, and has learned to be graceful enough not to think she's entitled to indulgences, but to take the offers rather than asking. She continues to see through her mother's manipulations. I am very proud of her. She is extremely bright. I was neutral with my own parents, for the longest time. I am also daddy's little girl, to this day. I've seen through my own mothers manipulation, as an adult. She accused my dad of kid-napping my brother and me. It's a LONG story. He is totally innocent. I grew up to see things for my own eyes, and so has my sweet and bright step-daughter. She will be a typical kid that sometimes still tries to ask for things that any kid would ask for: college in Hawaii, a Jaguar, (and probably some ridiculously expensive wedding one day). We are keeping things in perspective for her. She knows that NONE of our kids are going to college in Hawaii (our response is "Good luck with that".) She knows that it is far greater to earn things for oneself, and to be gracious enough to take offers and assistance rather than feel entitled to them. She already knows that we're not paying for ANYONE'S entire wedding (especially ones that cost more than a car - - that's ludicrous for ANYONE), but will assist. She knows that she will have to earn at least some portion toward a car. This is not about being selfish. This is about instilling character in ALL of our children. We are not indulging in ANY ONE particular child. Pay for all of their car, they don't take care of it, and might even get hurt while driving it because they don't realize it's not a right but a privilige. Pay for all of their college, they party, and don't get the grades they should. Pay for all of their wedding, they might not think twice about who they are marrying, and not realize that they have a whole lifetime ahead of them, beyond the wedding... This goes for ALL of our children, not just my step-daughter. We think this way, because of what we did as kids. Our parents paid for our weddings to our former spouses. We didn't stay married. Our parents paid for our entire educations, we didn't take them seriously... When we did it a second time around: our marriages are awesome (there's baggage, but we have great communication), our educations after the initial degree (or lack thereof) have resulted in much higher grades. We take much better care of our cars, because we earned the money for them. By the way, the braces are not for her bite. I know this, because her teeth look an awful lot like mine used to when I was her age. They're just trying to make her smile straighter. She has eye teeth in the front that need pulled down, and teeth in the way that need pulled out, just like I did. The only need pulled down and pulled out to make them look straighter. Yes, EVENTUALLY, her bite could possibly be affected, but it's more about cosmetic reasons at this point. My step-sister waited until she was an adult, and paid for her braces on her own. I owe SO MUCH gratitude to my OWN step-mother. My mom has painted her out to be the typical manipulative step-mother. She is TOTALLY not like that at all. As an adult I understand that now. I always tried to hold a neutral perspective. Now that I'm an adult, I know the whole story. I love this site, for the people who can look at the whole picture, and not attack others personally. Unfortunately, there are some on here who think it's okay to attack others on a personal level. I've seen it happen to others on here. From now on, I am not looking at any more responses to this request. I've seen a lot of great advice on here, in response to my request, and I'm going to use it. As far as how I'm treating our daughter in question, that is not your business.
J.T. answers from College Station on April 11, 2009
DH needs to contact his company's HR department as ask that question. Each plan is written differently.
E.A. answers from Atlanta on April 10, 2009
I do understand your perspective. I do. But it sounds like her mother is footing the bill entirely except for your husband providing the existing insurance coverage (in order to discount the price that she's paying out of pocket). You've gotta keep in mind that your step-daughter already has the braces on--That battle is over; you're rallying your troops on an empty battlefield. Even if your dental plan says there is a maximum annual expenditure limit on your family coverage, what can you do? Would you really withhold the ex-wife's reimbursement checks towards the what-if scenario that the other kids need dental work...? In her eyes, it would just look like you expect her to pay for your kids dental bill too. (And have you considered how much it would cost if your husband has to get his divorce attorney back into court to hash this out--yuck!)
At this point, you'll have a hard time trying to set the clock backward... The orthodontist is not going to take them off now. You should probably expect the braces to be on for the next 2-3 years.
Pick your battles carefully. Peace in blended families is worth its weight in gold. If you raise a complaint to her mother, it will only get back to the daughter, paint you as the mean step-mother and hurt your relationship with her. My 2 cents = Not worth it.
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D.H. answers from San Antonio on April 11, 2009
My one question is: isn't "her" child your husbands child? If so, why aren't you wanting the best for the kid. It's not her fault that her parents couldn't work things out and it's definetely not her problem that apparently her step "mom" is uncaring........
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J.S. answers from Houston on April 11, 2009
You've received some good advice about checking with your insurance company, the difference between dental and orthodontic care and what the divorce decree states. I see you sent a long clarification and I'd like to gently point out something that might help you in the long run.
While I can see you intention is to have equal care for all children, your title of your post shows that you might not think of your ex wife's daughter as your husbands "...entitled to for her daughter". You differentiate between "my children" and "her daughter". For the sake of the child, please find a way to view her as yours too since she is part of your husband. On the necessity of the braces, they aren't normally done for aesthetic purposes - what would lead you to think that?
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W.C. answers from San Antonio on April 10, 2009
Your best bet is to look at the devorce decree and the insurance policy itself. Each individual situation will be different. The devorce decree will be the desiding factor, regardless of how many children he chooses to have after this decree.
This girl (yes, and by association, her mother) shoud not have to suffer because you and your husband chose to have more children, already knowing the "bills" that he was responcible for. This is the way that most courts will see it.
She is not "her child". She is their child. You might find peace with this if you try to look at this little girl as his child. If you love him, you should try to love her also. Check the paperwork and then check your heart.
Good luck and I hope you find answers and peace.
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T.R. answers from Houston on April 11, 2009
Orthodontic care is not going to be taken out of the dental portion of your insurance. It is seperate and lifetime amount that is alloted to each person on the plan. Dental insurance covers very little and I understand you frustrations. However I do want to point out that to the Ex-wife there is only one child she has to advocate for and that is hers. She might see it as your husbands responsibility to worry about the coverage of his other children. I would try to see both sides and then call your insurance because I would bet lots of money that you are worried over nothing....
(This did not mean to be rude...I just sometimes find it healthy for myself to look from the other persons perspective) I am sure it is hard for everyone involved.
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C.C. answers from San Antonio on April 12, 2009
Am I misunderstanding you? Your husband's Ex-Wife is receiving dental reimbursement for a dental expense for "her" daughter?
Is this her daughter alone? Or is this your husbands child AKA your step daughter?
Also, medical/dental coverage agreements are often laid out in the divorce and or child support agreement. Or arrangements are agreed upon between the Two responsible parties - in this case the child's parents. In some cases an ex-spouse may have agreed to a modified child support arrangement that included health care coverage until the child in question was either 18 or had obtained a college degree as a full time student (22 or 24).
In other cases the child may be covered by one plan from 1 parent/care giver or dually covered by 2 plans from 2 caregivers, and out of pocket expenses are either split equally between the parents / split equitably along the same % as overall care expenses paid for the child.
I'm sure on this issue you can ask your husband what his exact arrangements are as to the care of his child (I am assuming at this point that it would be for his child as dental/medical coverage extended to the care of a non-blood relation minor from a dissolved marriage is rare, except in cases of legal adoption).
I take it you are also not a dentist? Orthodontics are a a long, painful course of treatment. Orthodontics are not applied to a child's teeth for "vanity" reasons. No mother would put her child thru that experience on a whim - and no Orthodontist, or insurance company would recommend or approve procedure that is so expensive, invasive, painful, and time consuming (18months to 3 yrs or more) just "because".
Modern orthodontics have severally decreased the number of dentures being received and expected to be required by our aging generations. Keeping the teeth in alignment reduces the instances of dental caries (cavities), gum diseases, and prevents other procedures that over time could lead to jaw deterioration and tooth loss (partial and full tooth removal, root canals, application of crown coverings etc.)
Crooked teeth are, in general, a health issue - not a vanity issue. They are especially effective in children and teens who have knot received all of their adult teeth yet, or their adult set is newly arrived and their gum's are still easily malleable.
As to your dental coverage disbursement and allotment - the best place to find this information would be in the Explanation of Dental Coverage handout from your dental insurance company. I would also look at the Explanation of Coverage from your medical insurance company as well. Depending on Benefit Plans, and inter company agreements (especially when part of an overall benefit package offered by an employer) Orthodontics may fall under dental coverage or medical coverage on weather or not the Orthodontist works out of a private office or an office attached to a larger medical center or surgical center.
If you do not have a copy of these explanations of benefits available to you in your home file, then I would recommend you request copies from the human resources department of your husbands place of work.
Barring that, a phone call to the service department from the phone number on the back of your insurance carrier card should provide you all the information you require.
I doubt anyone here can tell you what coverage your dental insurance provides as no one here is in possession of your policy.
For general information I can say that most insurance policies have a $$ amt for EACH person, and also a capped yearly amount for different levels of coverage (ie, preventative (1), general care (2), orthodontics and dental surgeries(3/4) ).
One peice of information on your particular policy that I gleaned from your original post - is that they do reimburse orthodontics expenses. that is not all too common, and leads me to believe your current dental company is a solid institution of some repute.
Either way, as you do have children in the home that are 100% in your care, I would recommend that you get those explanations of benefits and become very familiar with what they do and do not cover. It's not fun being hit with an unexpected medical or dental expense simply because you were not familiar with your own policy and it;s limits. For example: lets say a child broke their arm, and mid-way thru the treatment the Dr. ordered an Xray to check on the set of the healing bone. You get the XRay done at the clinic adjacent to the Dr.s office - only to find a week later that you are on the hook for $150 in uncovered X-Ray charges since that technician location was not covered byu your ins. and you would have only had to pay $5 if you had gone someplace else?
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S.R. answers from Austin on April 11, 2009
Definitely check out your insurance info by giving them a call. Another option is FSA account. You should have one if you husbands work provides it as a benefit. Especially for 4 children (you neglected to mention your step daughter in your "little about me section"). If you can get an FSA setup, estimate cautiously how much you will spend on medical bills (prescriptions, copay's, and out of pocket expenses). Its literally like having 25% more to spend because it is NOT taxed. But, if you don't spend all your money by the end of the year, it is lost. You can also use it for over the counter cold medicine etc. Another suggestion is to communicate with the EX about your step daughter's medical needs. After all, you knew he had baggage when you married him. You knew that no matter how many children you have, the step daughter is still entitled to his love and care as well. I don't think you meant to sound bitter, but you did. Blended families are hard. I would know, I grew up in one with a bitter, selfish step mother and thanked God that I had a wonderful supportive step father. Try the communication, and get the ex on the same team. Life will be so much easier. Good luck!
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U. answers from San Antonio on April 10, 2009
the grace and love you show to your step-daughter go a WHOLE lot farther than any insurance benefits. This isn't a battle worth contemplating.
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