Is It Better to Get Health Insurance as a Married Couple or Single?

Health insurance might not seem important until you get sick.

Health insurance might not seem important until you get sick.

For many people, the cost of health insurance is shockingly high. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported in 2012 that average annual premiums for employer-sponsored plans are $5,615 for an individual. You might not be excited about dipping into your vacation budget to pay for health insurance, but having health insurance can help protect you from the financial risks of a serious illness and, in 2014, health insurance will become mandatory under the Affordable Care Act. For most people, getting health insurance as a married couple when you're both employed can help save money.

Married Couples

When you get married, health insurance providers typically offer the option for carrying a joint plan. If you get health insurance through your employer, your employer can establish its own rules for health insurance coverage, and some employers extend benefits to domestic partners while others don't extend benefits even to spouses. You'll need to check the terms of your health insurance package to determine if you can add your spouse and how much it will cost.

Benefits for Freelancers

If you work for yourself or don't get insurance through your job, getting health insurance as a married person can be a married benefit. The spouse who doesn't have insurance can typically get insurance through her spouse's employee-sponsored insurance plan. This is usually a much less expensive arrangement than trying to get individual health insurance.

Joint Plans

If you neither of you gets insurance through your employer, signing up for an individual plan as a married couple can still save you money. Some individual plans offer discounts to married couples. Combining your health insurance can also make it easier to hit your deductible, particularly if your insurance company counts both people's expenses toward a single deductible. If, however, one of you has a serious medical condition, combining your insurance plan could raise the rates of the healthy spouse.

Cost-Saving Options

If you need to save money on your health insurance, consider getting a high deductible plan. You'll have to pay out of pocket for most doctor's visits and prescriptions, but if either of you gets a serious illness, you'll be covered. Some individual health insurance plans charge high premiums for maternity coverage and, if you want maternity coverage, combining plans and getting a maternity plan and then a high-deductible plan for your spouse can help you save money if you get pregnant.

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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