Health Insurance Options for Newlyweds Four tips on navigating health insurance coverage as a new couple. BY MICHAEL MAHONEY
It can be difficult to understand the best health plan option, but it's something couples need to do their homework on.
“ Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, married couples that earn between $15,730-$63,920 per year will generally qualify to save money on health insurance premiums.”
Your big day has come and gone. Now it’s time to make important decisions to protect the well-being of your growing family, as well as your future. You and your spouse will most likely have a lot of questions regarding the ins and outs of heath coverage. Here are four of the most common questions and how to navigate your best options as a new couple.
Can we still enroll in health insurance? Getting married is considered a Qualifying Life Event, so newlyweds have the unique opportunity to enroll in health insurance outside of the national Open Enrollment Period. You and your new spouse have 60 days from the time you get married to shop for a Marketplace health insurance plan. This is also your window to take advantage of financial assistance, which saves individuals an average of $263 on premium costs each month.
Should my spouse and I select a Marketplace health plan? Selecting a health insurance plan sold on the Marketplace could save you and your spouse a significant amount of money. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, married couples that earn between $15,730-$63,920 per year will generally qualify to save money on health insurance premiums. The lower your income is within that range, the greater your savings, but you must select a plan sold on the Marketplace to take advantage of those savings. You must also not have access to affordable health insurance through your employer.
Marketplace plans are held to a certain standard and must offer the same 10 essential health benefits including, maternity and newborn care; prescription drug coverage; emergency room care; and preventive and wellness services. If you are planning to expand your family, it’s comforting to know that prenatal and newborn care is covered with a Marketplace health plan.
Should I switch to my new spouse’s health plan? Definitely consider your spouse’s health insurance as a coverage option. If your spouse’s employer offers comprehensive health insurance at a reasonable rate, it may make sense to join your partner’s plan. Do your homework to make sure this is the right choice. Find out how much it will cost to add a family member to the plan. Review the benefits to ensure you can continue to see your preferred doctor, can afford the premium payments and out-of-pocket expenses, and have benefits like prescription coverage and maternity care.
Take the time to evaluate your options. Sometimes sharing insurance plans may be more affordable in the long run. However, keeping separate insurance plans may be the wiser choice, depending upon your health care needs and the price difference between plans.
How do we get started? If you are looking for a Marketplace plan or would like to find out if you qualify for financial assistance, you should contact a health insurance exchange. Many health insurance exchange providers partner with the government to estimate eligibility for financial assistance. They also provide free assistance from licensed health insurance advisors so you and your spouse can feel confident selecting the right health plan. If you would like to join the health plan offered through your spouse’s employer, contact the company’s human resources department. They will provide plan details and help you through the process of joining the group plan.
Whichever coverage option you choose, start evaluating your options as a couple now. Remember, by law, you only have 60 days from the day you wed to enroll in a Marketplace plan. As you prepare for your future together, be sure to take the time to protect your finances and well-being.
Michael Mahoney is the GoHealth Senior Vice President of Marketing. Michael joined GoHealth in 2003, when the company was still a small startup. Since then, he has helped to develop the business into a national leader in health insurance e-commerce. In his current role as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Mahoney operates the products and services related to GoHealthInsurance.com, an online health insurance marketplace that connects individuals and families with the right health coverage.