How do most married, dual-income couples deal with health insurance?
May 17, 2013 2:26 PM   Subscribe

How do most married, dual-income couples deal with health insurance? Should I drop mine and go on his plan? I am recently married. My husband and I are both healthy and have private sector jobs that are reasonably secure. I work for a small (less than 20 employees) company that has so-so health insurance. Husband works for a larger (500 employee) company that has awesome health insurance. Adding me to his health plan would cost about the same as what I pay for my health plan now. I'm planning on joining his health plan, but open enrollment time is coming up at my job, and I'm wondering if I should keep my insurance or drop it. I can afford the premium, but I don't want to be wasting money where I don't need to. Is it good to be double-insured just in case he loses his job? We have no kids, but are planning on them in the next few years.
posted by emily37 to Work & Money (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Check with your HR, but "spouse lost his job" is usually a case where you can make an insurance change outside of open enrollment at the places I've worked. So you might be able to drop your insurance to save money and then pick it back up again if something happens with his job partway through the year.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

In your situation, with the costs being roughly equivalent and one obviously better choice as far as coverage goes, I would go with your husband's insurance and drop your own. If he loses his job, you will likely be able to re-enroll with your company even if it's not open enrollment time. (Check with your HR person to be sure, but most plans allow changes to be made if a "qualifying event" occurs, and a loss of coverage is usually one of those qualifying events.)
posted by something something at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

If he loses his job it counts as a qualifying event for you to sign up for your work's plan outside of the open enrollment period. Talk to the person who handles this at your company for more info.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2013

Go with the Awesome Insurance for everyone and drop yours.

And, yes, if he loses his job, it's a qualifying event to enroll him on your insurance outside of the open enrollment period -- as in, the loss of insurance is the qualifying event. Having kids is a qualifying event, too, so when you do have a child, you will be able to add said child outside of the open enrollment period as well.

I see few reasons in your situation to be dualed insured. If the Awesome Insurance covers nearly everything, then you would just be wasting your money by keeping your not-so-good insurance.
posted by zizzle at 2:33 PM on May 17, 2013

It's cheapest for each of us to have our own. When I lost my job, I went on his insurance. When he went back to school, he went on mine.

Double insured often isn't all that great. Not worth the money in most cases and a lot more fingers pointing back and forth when it comes time to pay the claims.

You need to verify if you're eligible to be added to your husband's insurance. In our case, if an employer offers insurance, then we can't be added to our spouse's insurance plan.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:34 PM on May 17, 2013

The other thing to remember about being double-insured is that it can turn into an administrative nightmare for you, as each insurance company will attempt to make the other one pay for things, especially if you have an expensive illness.
posted by rockindata at 2:34 PM on May 17, 2013 [10 favorites]

I agree with the comments above - check to see if you can get on your husband's insurance, and check what would happen if he lost his job. If all is well, get on his & drop yours.

There would be a potential issue if you were privately insured (not through your employer), because - especially if you have a preexisting condition - it can be very difficult to get back on a private insurance plan if you leave it. This is changing with the new healthcare laws, but it's not fully in effect yet. But - it doesn't matter to you, because your insurance is through your employer.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:36 PM on May 17, 2013

Its very common for the couple to both be on whatever plan they think is best.
posted by Area Man at 2:37 PM on May 17, 2013

If his is better, and costs the same as yours, get on his.

Change of insurance status is a qualifying life event (I'm in the middle of taking my husband off mine because he got a job, all I have to do is show my insurance company his paperwork for the new insurance). If he lost his job, you could get back on yours (you can confirm this with your HR).

The only time it might be a problem is if his awesome plan turns into a crap plan. You'd have to wait for your own open enrollment to get back on your employer's insurance then.

Most couples I know do the insurance-comparison dance every time jobs change or plans get better/worse or more/less expensive.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:46 PM on May 17, 2013

They do it by looking at what the various plans are, how much they cost, and how they interact. Most companies charge a significant premium for adding family members beyond the employee, and spouses are more expensive than kids. Some even charge an additional premium for spouses who have benefits available at their own employer but aren't enrolled. The only way of figuring it out is to get all the info from both HR offices and running the numbers, as these things are highly idiosyncratic.
posted by valkyryn at 3:19 PM on May 17, 2013

I would very strongly recommend dropping your own insurance if you join your husband's plan. I had two insurance plans for a while because it sounded like such a good idea; I'd never have to pay for anything out of pocket, right? It was a complete and utter nightmare that cost us large amounts of time (talking on the phone with insurance companies who give you a different answer every time you call) and money (there were things that were never paid even though both insurance companies supposedly covered them because the insurance companies kept fighting about who should pay). I will never ever no matter what have two insurance plans. Avoid.
posted by medusa at 3:27 PM on May 17, 2013

No, don't go double insured! That just gives license for both companies to refuse to cover things, because the other company will cover it. I only have one health insurance plan, and they send me a letter about a twice a year asking me to confirm that I don't have any other insurance, and if I don't reply by X date, they will assume I have other coverage. It's basically a fishing expedition to drop me/deny things. Especially if you plan on starting a family (expensive medical events!), which is exactly when health insurers start looking for ways to weasel out of paying for things.
posted by Joh at 3:39 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Every once in a while, you might find a restriction in an employer-provided health plan that indicates that expanding coverage to a dependent/spouse (ie, you) is only covered if the dependent/spouse does not have access to insurance through their employer. This is the case at at least two major employers in the area where I live, but has never been the case anywhere I work. Presumably this is an effort to try to reduce employer health care expenditures for "unnecessary" coverage. I'd check that this isn't the case for your husbands employer.
posted by saeculorum at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Double insurance means that instead of just paying for your care, the two insurance companies engage in a battle over who should cover your care. You ever get into that thing with a friend at a restaurant where you fight over the check? It's like that except instead of dinner, it's your medical bills and no one wants to pay.

If either of you loses a job, you can go on the other's insurance. My husband quit his job to start a company. Quitting a job counts as a qualifying life event, making him eligible to sign up for my insurance outside of open enrollment.

IMO, this is a no-brainer. Drop your insurance and go on his.
posted by kat518 at 5:09 PM on May 17, 2013

Definitely don't go for double coverage. I would say confirm with your HR that losing your spouse's coverage would be a qualifying event to let you re-enroll, make sure that any medical providers you want to keep take the new one, and switch on over.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 6:13 PM on May 17, 2013

I'm not exactly sure why there are so many insurances who seem to have problems with dual coverage. There is a very specific filling order: your insurance through your employer is primary, and your insurance through your spouse is secondary. Your insurance will cover at their rates, then the provider bills the secondary for the balance. I work in medical Billing and am also double insured. My husband enrolled me in his plan when we decided to start trying for a pregnancy. I ended up having a somewhat complicated pregnancy and having double coverage was the best thing we could have done. We double enrolled our son as well, and that has also been the right move for us.

If you're still considering dual coverage, I would look into how your husband's insurance pays as secondary..some will pay the balance in full, some will make you meet the deductible first.

Depending on just how good your husbands insurance is, you might just go with his and save yourself the premiums. As noted by other posters, both of you should check with your respective HR departments to check into what constitutes a life event for enrollment outside of open enrollment.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:12 PM on May 17, 2013

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