Getting married is an exciting, life-changing time that also means you have a few more freedoms in this country, like joining your spouse’s health plan. But outside the group market, where this is often the most beneficial, how much do you actually save when doubling up on a health insurance policy?
Having previously run a few quotes for married couples before really delving into this question, not much difference was evident between those rates and simply paying for separate plans.
Health reform provisions helped to change this question a bit, as gender is no longer a rating factor and cannot affect your premiums. Before the law took effect, women in most states were charged more for coverage, unless they were some of the few that sold plans on equal terms.
Other factors, such as age, location and tobacco use will be applied to your plan. The number of people on a health plan (two in this case) also affect your rates, but is two people on one plan cheaper than two people buying their own plans?
Married Health Insurance Plan Case Study
First, we considered general rate fluctuations across the country. Before 2014, insurers on the West Coast and a few other states, like New York and Massachusetts, didn’t rate men and women differently. This made coverage more expensive for everyone.
In this pre-health reform example, quotes were run for a 35-year-old, male-female married couple living in Columbus. As Columbus was one of the least expensive major cities in which to buy health insurance at the time (2012), the prices can be considered a representation of low-to-average health plan prices in modern day America.
Columbus was a good example of men and women’s plans being priced differently, like most states before the Affordable Care Act. (Ironically, immediately after the ACA took effect, Columbus became one of the most expensive cities for individual coverage.)
Considering this couple wants the most out of their health plan for their money, we set the deductible at $2500 and chose plans with twenty percent coinsurance, and gave preference to unlimited office visits. With these elements in mind, we selected the top three options from the available insurers and evaluated costs for the couple together and separately.
Male Individual Quote
Female Individual Quote
First, we take a look at plans purchased as a unit. The most affordable plan is $228 per month, meaning each person would pay $114. This is going to be a less expensive option for the wife, in this case. By splitting the bill as a couple she would save $20 per month on the IHC plan, though her husband would be paying more than if he purchased the same plan on his own. In this case, buying a plan together is a better choice for total spending.
To find the methodology behind these plans’ pricing, if any, we check the next plan from United for the same properties. Divided between each spouse, this Copay plan costs them $129.50 each per month.
With this plan as a pair, the wife saves even more money compared to buying the UHO plan on her own, and the husband still spends more, but only by $7. If they chose the Medical Mutual option, the husband might prefer getting his own plan, as sharing equal costs would be $30 more for him. In each of these instances, it’s more economical for the female applicant to buy a plan with her spouse than to buy her own plan.
Prior to Obamacare, which would make costs the same for both husband and wife in this example, the married plan saves more money. Total spending for each to have their own plan from IHC, the least expensive option in the city, would cost a total of $241 compared to the married special of $228.
When shopping for health insurance, it is entirely up to you and your spouse how you wish to pay, the coverage you prefer, and if you even want the same plan in the first place. Certain couples have different health needs, and therefore the same plan may not be fitting for both parties.
Some of us don’t like wearing matching outfits, and the same goes for health insurance. Individual health insurance allows you to be an individual, or a matching couple, whichever suits your lifestyle best.