By Andrew Lisa ,a freelance insurance writer. He covers business and personal health insurance.
One of the biggest household financial decisions a couple will face is whether to get a joint health insurance plan. After the marriage ceremony, you’re no longer two individuals, but one entity – but should your health insurance plan always follow suit?
Follow this guide to determining whether to pair up or go it alone.
Joint health insurance plans come with potential pitfalls, but also potential benefits.
Beyond the Premium
As discussed in “5 Factors to Consider When Comparing Health Insurance Plans,” health insurance costs come in many forms. It is easy to look at just the monthly premiums you’re each paying as individuals, add them together and then shop around for joint plans that would cost less per month. But that’s not the only – and often not even the biggest – cost.
Co-Pay vs. Premiums
Generally, the lower the premium, the higher the copay. For young, healthy people with no recurring medical issues, a low premium means they’ll pay more for their rare doctor visits, which makes sense in that case. But if you visit the doctor a lot, the cost of copays could quickly negate the benefit of a cheap premium. Do either you or your spouse visit the doctor often? Does one of you require regular visits to the pharmacy? These are questions you should ask before the marriage ceremony, so when it’s time to consider health plans, you’ll know the factors beyond the premium.
Outside the Plan
One of the biggest factors is whether or not you’ll be able to keep your doctor if one or both of you switch plans after getting married. What your wedding officiant never told you is that health insurance plans come with a pre-approved set of doctors. Would you be willing to roll the dice on a new doctor to save money? Figure out exactly which doctors are in the network of your potential new plan.
If one of you has a health-insurance plan through their job, it is likely that he or she may be able to add you once the wedding officiant makes it official. It is often cheaper for an employee to add a spouse to an existing plan than it would be for the two of you to open a new plan together.
Health insurance is about more than just saving money on premiums – you have to like your options in healthcare professionals!
Getting married is a big deal – one that leads to a lot of big decisions down the line. There are many instances in which married couples forgo their individual financial setups for the sake of combined savings. But health insurance is about more than just saving money. You have to like the doctors available in the insurer’s network, and you have to be sure that copay costs won’t crush the savings you would have received from a cheap premium.