Many people in this country and others may choose to get married as a financial convenience after having been with the same person for some time, it seems to make sense. This raised the question of how much one actually saves when joining your spouse on a health insurance plan. Having run a few quotes for married couples, I have yet to notice too much of a difference between those rates and simply paying for two individual plans. While it can surely be assumed that rates will vary in each city and state, it was time to investigate whether a joint plan was really all that much more cost effective than buying two individual 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?
It is worth considering the state’s typical prices for health insurance, firstly. If you live in the Western United States, in places like Oregon, Colorado, or California, the rates will be the same for both sexes but incredibly high overall. For a more normal price range, we must seek out a less exotic locale for the rest of the country to be able to relate.
For a pre-health reform example, quotes were run for a 35-year-old, male-female married couple living in Columbus, Ohio. 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 is a good example of men and women’s plans being priced differently, like most states before the Affordable Care Act.
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. Right off the bat, this is going to be a less expensive option for the woman in the relationship. 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. If they can put that $10 worth of resentment aside, the joint plan is a better choice for total spending for this couple in Columbus.
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 cases, it seems the wife gets the overall advantage, which then leaves the decision ultimately up to the couple applying.
Depending on how the couple decides to pay, the married plan, at least in Columbus, is a money saver overall. 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. It turns out health insurers are cutting a deal for married couples, however, 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.