The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued a new set of guidelines for compliance for what are known as qualified child support orders (“QMSCO”).

Many employers offer what is known as an employee based group benefit plan.  Simply stated, this is usually health insurance offered at a reduced rate to employees of companies.  Most of these programs are governed by both federal and state law.  The federal law, known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is especially pertinent to these employer sponsored group health plans.

A 1993 amendment to ERISA requires employer-sponsored group health plans to extend health care coverage to the children of a parent/employee who is divorced, separated, or never married when ordered to do so by state authorities.  Many states refer to such a court ordered obligation as a “qualified medical child support order”.  The group health plan must determine whether the medical child support order is “qualified”.

The recently issued Compliance Assistance Guide released by the U.S. Department of Labor provides general questions and answers about Qualified Medical Child Support Orders, answers questions about National Medical Support Notices and the role of State child support enforcement agencies in obtaining health care coverage on behalf of children, and also lists additional resources that may provide useful information about ERISA and obtaining health care coverage and medical care for children.

To learn more about these guidelines click here.