Should You Combine Health Insurance After Marriage?

It's one of your new legal benefits, but is it right for you?

Find out if combining your health insurance with that of your spouse is the right step for you both.

Photo: Bob & Dawn Davis Photography

While much of your focus during the engagement period is likely to be on the wedding itself, there are also factors regarding your actual marriage that need to be handled. Nowadays, many couples have been living together for years before they tie the knot, so it doesn’t always feel like anything changes after saying “I do.” Instead, it’s just making official what they’ve both felt in their hearts. Some pairs even own a home or have a joint checking account together before exchanging vows. However, there are still things that change, such as your tax filing status as well as health insurance. Most of the time, you can’t be claimed as a dependent on a health insurance plan until you are officially wed. Once you are married, however, that is considered a “qualifying event” and you do not have to wait until open enrollment to go on a spouse’s plan or add them to yours as long as you make the change within 30 days of the wedding. 

bride and groom in front of wooden staircase with florals and greenery on both sides
Photo by Anya Kernes Photography; Bridal Salon: The White Dress

The question is: Should you combine health insurance policies with your spouse, or are you better off each being on your own plan? See some of our suggestions below:

When to Combine: 

If one spouse is a full-time employee and another is a freelance or contract worker, the latter most likely does not get medical benefits through employment and had to purchase their own healthcare policy. Even if you both receive health insurance through work, it may be beneficial to combine if one person has a better price or coverage through their plan. Those whose employment longevity is not stable could feel more secure having their health care attached to their spouse’s job instead.

When to Stay Separate: 

Even if your health care policy is very affordable, adding a dependent might raise the price significantly. Be sure to compare your respective policies and see what is the right economic choice as well as what provides you both with the best coverage. If you’re attached to the doctor you already have, you’ll want to make sure a different plan still has that medical professional in network – if not, you probably do not want to switch. The same goes if you are on specific prescription medication, as different plans have different prescription costs. If that goes up astronomically, your monthly costs going down may not make much of a difference.