This Valentine’s Day: A Box of Chocolates and a Health Insurance Plan

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Valentine’s Day is a popular day to get engaged.  But with expensive rings and wedding plans on their minds, few couples will be asking how health insurance factors into their future. That’s unfortunate, because the fact is that marriage can add an extra layer of complexity to health insurance choices, and the right health plan can help a life-long partnership get off to a financially solid start.

Below is a series of questions and answers designed to help newly engaged or married couples find the best health insurance solution for their needs and budget this holiday:

Question: “We don’t currently have health insurance.  What are our choices?”

Answer: First of all, don’t go uninsured.  Health insurance is about more than getting access to medical care when you want it.  It’s also about limiting your financial liability for medical costs.  With the cost of medical care on the rise and medical bills among the most common reasons for personal bankruptcy, a quality health insurance plan can help provide the financial security you need.

If neither of you are currently eligible for employer-sponsored coverage, consider purchasing an individual or family health insurance plan.  In most states you’ll find lots of individual and family options to choose from, with a broad range of deductibles, copayments, and monthly premiums.  You might be surprised by some of the affordable options available in your area.

Question: “I can add my spouse to my employer-sponsored plan.  Isn’t that our best option?”

Answer:  Covering both of you under a group health insurance plan is a popular solution.  But you may want to do a little research first. You may find that it makes more financial sense – and better meets your coverage needs – to cover one or both of you under an individual or family health insurance plan rather than through an employer plan.

Talk to your Human Resources department or benefits administrator and find out how much your employer contributes towards monthly premiums for dependents.  (It’s often substantially less than they contribute for employees.)  Then take a look at quotes for individual and family health insurance policies in your area.  You can do this online through a licensed agency like eHealthInsurance.com or by contacting a licensed agent in your area.

When you have the information in front of you, ask yourself: How do the monthly premiums for individual or family plans compare to what would be taken out of my paycheck?  How do the deductibles and copayments compare?  Which plans cover the services I value most, and which would require me to pay for benefits I’ll never use?

Question: “Does it ever make sense to keep separate health insurance plans?”

Answer:  This is like asking whether or not newlyweds should keep separate bank accounts.  It works for some people.  Being covered together under a single health insurance policy isn’t going to strengthen your relationship or prove your love for one another.  In fact, you could save money by going separate ways for health insurance.

In the previous question we’ve identified one scenario in which it might make sense to keep separate health insurance policies.  But even if neither of you have employer-sponsored coverage options, it may still make sense to apply for separate individual health insurance plans.  Get quotes for health insurance plans in your area and compare your options.  And ask yourself: do you both need the same kind of coverage?  For example, if maternity or chiropractic or prescription drug benefits matter for one of you but not the other, then mixing and matching health policies might help you save money.

Question: “We want to start a family right away.  Does that change the way we should look at our coverage options?”

Answer:  Yes.  Not all individual and family health insurance plans come with maternity benefits.  Some states require it, others don’t.  You may find that some plans offering maternity benefits only allow coverage to kick in after you’ve been on the plan for six months or more. 

When reviewing your health insurance options, make sure to find a plan that provides maternity coverage you can afford.  How much will pre-natal care cost you?  What will your labor and delivery costs look like?

The other thing you’ll want to look at is sometimes called “well child” or “well baby” care.  This is preventive care for the baby and may include everything from checkups to immunizations.  If you’re going to add the newborn to your individual and family plan, you’ll want to make sure that medical care for junior is affordable.

Question: “My spouse has a medical condition.  Is that going to be a problem?”

Answer: If you’d like to add your spouse to your employer-sponsored group health insurance plan, you can breathe easy.  No one can be turned down for group health insurance due to a pre-existing medical condition. 

However, it may be a problem if you’re buying coverage on your own.  In most states, applicants for individual and family health insurance may be declined coverage based on medical history.  If this is a concern for you, talk to a licensed agent to learn which insurance companies may be more flexible in their approval standards.  You may be able to find something that works for you. 

If not, talk to your state or county authorities, or visit the non-profit Foundation for Health Coverage Education (www.coverageforall.org) to learn about the government-sponsored options in your state.

For a free quote, visit e-HealthInsurance.com today!