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Learning Center / General / Health Insurance and Getting Married: What You Need To Know

Health Insurance and Getting Married: What You Need To Know

February 4, 2024

A man slides a wedding ring onto his wife's hand.

Getting married is a significant life event that brings about various changes, often involving merging your lives together. And although it may not be at the top of your list, questions may arise about how marriage impacts your health insurance plans. After all, it is  a vow of “in sickness and in health.” 

In this article, we'll explore the nuances of health insurance for married couples and address common questions such as how marital status influences insurance coverage, the coverage options available when married, and the financial implications of health insurance decisions during marriage.

Whether you're planning your wedding or recently tied the knot, understanding the dynamics of health insurance in marriage is crucial for navigating this aspect of shared life. 

How does marriage impact my health insurance? 

Marriage can significantly impact your health insurance coverage and costs. And getting married often allows spouses to combine health insurance plans. Here's how marriage may affect your health insurance options.

  • Potential income changes: Marriage can affect income qualifications for health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, potentially altering your eligibility for financial assistance. 
  • Premium Reductions: Combining health insurance after marriage can lead to lower monthly premiums, making coverage more affordable for the couple. 
  • Triggers a Qualifying Life Event: Marriage is considered a qualifying life event, which triggers a Special Enrollment Period that allows you and your spouse to enroll in or modify Marketplace coverage. 

Note: Under this Special Enrollment Period, you have 60 days from the day you get married to enroll in an ACA health insurance plan through an employer or on the health insurance marketplace. If you miss this 60-day window, you will likely have to wait until the next Open Enrollment period for ACA health plans

Can you stay on your parents’ health insurance if you’re married? 

Yes. Under federal law in most states, young adults can remain on their parents' health insurance plan until the age of 26, regardless of their marital status.

However, once you're married, you might face changes in you eligibility status since marriage often signifies the establishment of a separate household. While you may no longer qualify as a dependent under your parents' plan, marriage is recognized as a qualifying life event. 

Can married couples have separate health insurance? 

Yes, married couples can have separate health insurance plans. Under the current healthcare law, couples are not required to choose a family plan or the same individual health insurance plan. Employers are not mandated to provide coverage to spouses, allowing flexibility for couples to explore individual plans. 

However, there are certain situations where having two separate policies might be beneficial, especially if one spouse is healthy and the other has medical conditions. 

While many spouses do opt to be covered under the same plan, the decision to have separate health insurance policies is dependent on individual circumstances and preferences. Couples should assess their health needs, compare plan options, and choose the approach that best fits their situation.

Do you have to be married to share health insurance? 

No, you do not have to be married to share health insurance policies. Health insurance plans often allow individuals to include family members - such as domestic partners, children, or other dependents - under a single plan. 

This means sharing health insurance is not limited to marital relationships. Many plans provide options for individuals to cover their partners or dependents, fostering inclusivity beyond marital status. 

What are the health insurance options for married people? 

When getting married, couples have several health insurance options to consider: 

  • Employer-Sponsored Plans: Many couples opt for health insurance plans offered through their employes. This option can be cost effective and often provides comprehensive coverage. 
  • Individual Plans: Each spouse can maintain their individual private health insurance plans. This option allows for flexibility, especially if both individuals have unique healthcare needs. 
  • Combining Plans: Couples may choose to combine their health insurance plans. This can be done through a family plan offered by one of the employers or through individual plans that cover both spouses. 
  • Health Insurance Marketplace Plans: Couples have the opportunity to enroll in Affordable Care Act plan options through the health insurance marketplace. This option is suitable for those who do not have access to employer-sponsored insurance. 
  • Medicare or Medicaid Coverage: Depending on eligibility and age, couples may consider Medicare or Medicaid as a choice for their health coverage.
  • COBRA Coverage: If one spouse loses employer-sponsored coverage due to marriage, they may have the option to continue coverage through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). 

Of course, choosing the right option depends on factors such as cost, coverage needs, and individual health conditions. 

The benefits of being on your spouse’s insurance 

Overall, being on your spouse's health insurance plan can offer financial advantages because they cover more than one person.  It may also be easier to track your health insurance coverage and costs since you're under the same policy. 

If you opt to join your spouse's health insurance plan offered by their employer, you may see a seamless transition into your new coverage. And this arrangement can also include coverage for prescription drugs as well as dental and vision care. So this option tends to be economical while providing comprehensive coverage to you and your spouse.

The Affordable Care Act can further expands options for married couples, which allow them to explore private health insurance plans.

How much does health insurance cost for married couples? 

According to ValuePenguin, the average monthly health insurance premium for a 40-year-old on an ACA silver plan without a subsidy is $560 as of 2024. For married couples, this premium cost would typically double. So unless you and your spouse qualify for a subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance for married couples can be costly.

Meanwhile, employer-sponsored health insurance coverage can be a common option for married couples. In 2023, the average annual premium for employer-sponsored health insurance was $8,435 for an individual policy and $23,968 for a family plan.

However, the cost of health insurance for married couples can vary based on factors such as your age, location, coverage type and number of people insured. And in some cases, separate health insurance plans may be the best option for you.

If you and your partner have different health plans prior to marriage, then be sure to review both plans to compare costs like monthly premiums, copayments or coinsurance, annual deductibles, and any out-of-pocket maximums.

Compare health insurance options for married couples

Remember, it's key to research different plans, compare costs, and consider individual health needs when choosing health insurance for married couples. 

While you navigate through your upcoming marriage milestone, just call our licensed insurance agents at 1-877-590-3245 (TTY 711), Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 8 PM ET, to discuss your health insurance questions. Our licensed insurance agents have access to a range of health insurance options for married couples, including ACA-compliant health plans that you may be able to enroll in during your Special Enrollment Period.

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