By Andrew Lisa, a freelance relationships writer. He covers personal finance and budgeting for couples.
Oh, the romance of finding someone to spend the rest of your life with. Marriage ceremonies, wedding vows, honeymoons – decisions about health insurance. Although it’s not the part of marriage that we dream about when we’re kids, health insurance is among the most important and consequential decisions of your relationship. Should you stay on your individual plans or get a join policy? Consider the following.
Health insurance is one of the least romantic – but most important – aspects of marriage.
As discussed in “How Life Changes Impact Health Insurance,” the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) offers married couples several options. Depending on your situation, you may be able to add yourself, your spouse or your kids onto your employers health insurance plan under the HIPAA provisions.
It is important to note that you must not only notify your plan, but request special enrollment within 30 days of your marriage ceremony. Put the notification in writing. It may or may not be required under the specifications of your plan, but it is the surest way to protect yourself in the case of any future questions or miscommunications.
Get the Information
Before you take your wedding vows, you’re going to need to call the provider of both you and your spouse’s plans. Find out exactly what it will entail and what it will cost to add your significant other to your plan, and then decide which of the following three options is the most pragmatic: Joining his or her plan, having him or her join your plan, or both of you taking no action and keeping your current plans. Will your deductibles change? Will your copays go up or down? Will you be afforded more or fewer annual visits to the doctor? Factor these questions in to your decision – it’s not just your monthly premiums that count.
When you look past your basic health insurance coverage, there are other options to consider. Do either you or your partner have or need vision or dental coverage? How much extra will that cost if you switch plans? Do you have a specific doctor or health center that you like to visit? Will you still have those options if you switch plans? Will you need referrals to see specialists that you can see without a referral now. Keep the nuances of your plan in mind before committing simply because of a lower premium.
The right health insurance plan can help you and your partner live a long and happy life.
At their best, marriage ceremonies are romantic and hold to the truest ideals spoken in the wedding vows. But in reality, marriages are partnerships that entail a slew of practical considerations – not the least of which is health insurance. It’s one of many important discussions you’ll eventually have, but it should be among the first.