Marriage Prep: Health Insurance for Married Couples

By Azure Nelson, Published Mar 1, 2010

Nothing Says ‘I Do’ Like Health Insurance Special to OneWed from Carrie McClean of With wedding expenses and honeymoon plans on their minds, few new couples spend much time thinking about how health insurance factors into their future. Maybe they should. The fact is, a quality health insurance plan can help a life-long partnership get off to a financially solid start. Here are a few tips to help you start the conversation with your significant other: Don’t go uninsured Don’t start off your married life uninsured. Health insurance is about more than getting access to medical care when you want it. It’s also about limiting your financial liability for medical expenses. With the cost of medical care on the rise and medical bills among the most common reasons for personal bankruptcy, a quality health insurance plan can help provide the financial security you need. If neither of you are currently eligible for employer-sponsored coverage, consider buying an individual or family health insurance plan. In most states you’ll find lots of individual and family options to choose from, with a broad range of deductibles, copayments, and monthly premiums. Check out non-employer options Even if you already have employer-sponsored group health insurance, you may want to do a little research before you add your spouse. You may find that it makes more financial sense – and better meets your coverage needs – to cover one or both of you under an individual or family health insurance plan rather than through your employer plan. Talk to your Human Resources representative or benefits administrator and find out how much your employer contributes towards monthly premiums for dependents. (It’s often substantially less than they contribute for employees.) Then take a look at quotes for individual and family health insurance policies in your area. You can do this online or by contacting a licensed agent in your area. With that information handy, ask yourself: How do the monthly premiums for privately-purchased coverage compare to what would be taken out of my paycheck? How do the deductibles and copayments compare? Which plans cover the services you value most, and which would require you to pay for benefits you’ll never use? Consider separate health policies It’s a little like maintaining separate checking accounts, but it makes sense for some people. Being covered together under a single health insurance policy isn’t going to strengthen your relationship or prove your love for one another. In fact, you could save money by going separate ways for health insurance. Do you both need the same kind of coverage? For example, if maternity or chiropractic or prescription drug benefits matter for one of you but not the other, then mixing and matching health policies might help you save money. Make room for baby Plan to start a family? When reviewing your health insurance options, make sure to find a plan that provides maternity coverage you can afford. How much will pre-natal care cost? What will your labor and delivery costs look like? The other thing you’ll want to look at is sometimes called “well baby” care. This is preventive care for the newborn and may include everything from checkups to immunizations. While many group health insurance plans offer maternity benefits, not all individual and family health insurance plans do. Keep in mind that some plans offering maternity benefits only allow coverage to kick in after you’ve been on the plan for six months or more. Beware of pre-existing medical conditions If you’d like to add your spouse to your employer-sponsored group health plan, you can breathe easy. No one can be turned down for group health insurance due to a pre-existing medical condition. However, it may be a problem if you’re buying coverage on your own. In most states, applicants for individual and family health insurance can be declined coverage based on their medical history. If this is a concern for you, talk to a licensed agent to learn which insurance companies may be more flexible in their approval standards. You may be able to find something that works for you. If not, talk to your state department of insurance for more information on government-sponsored high-risk pools.

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