Your wedding day. It’s the happiest day of your life. Leading up to the big day you have many big decisions regarding your wedding. Band or DJ? What kind of cake? Who’s sitting next to Uncle Jerry? Often times what gets lost in the shuffle is what to do about health insurance as you transition from single life to married life.

What should you do about health insurance after you get married? What are you options for a new plan? This depends on whether or not you or your spouse has job-based health insurance. If you both have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s government marketplace, what does that mean? Let’s review considerations you should review before enrolling a spouse into a joint healthcare plan.

Add a Spouse to an Employer Plan

If one of you (in the couple) currently has health insurance through an employer, then your first step should be to assess the costs and benefits of adding the second partner to the employer plan. Check to see what adding a spouse to the plan entails (like new costs) and what type of coverage you’ll have. A new health insurance plan usually means a new network of doctors. Check to see if your current doctor is covered, if not, what are your alternative options?

An employer healthcare plan might be cheaper to you and your spouse because your employer is able to negotiate group rates with health insurance companies. These discounts are available to companies because they’re able to spread risk across a large group rather than just one person. Aside from the discounted cost, employers will subsidize employees’ health insurance. This could reduce your costs dramatically.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in 2015, a year of single coverage cost $6,251. Employers paid 83% of the premium, leaving employees to pay the remaining $1,071.

It’s worth investigating what these numbers are for you and your spouse before you make a decision.

Find a New Marketplace Plan

Marriage is a qualifying event that makes you eligible to sign up for a marketplace insurance plan, even if it’s past the open enrollment period. Therefore, even if one person has employer insurance, you’re eligible to sign up for a new plan.

Visit Healthcare.gov, your state’s specific marketplace, or speak to an insurance agent to see what options are available to you and compare that with your spouse’s employer insurance. If you both currently have individual plans from the marketplace, you can get a new, joint plan.

If you do choose the route of a marketplace plan, be aware that if you do have the option for an employer plan, you are not eligible for government subsidies.

Keep Everything the Same

Lots of things change when you get married. Your health insurance doesn’t actually have to change. Lots of couples will explore different healthcare options when they’re married. But they don’t actually have to change their plan. It’s possible to continue with your individual insurance plan after marriage. Just remember to update your subsidy eligibility with Healthcare.gov. While it might seem easier to go this option,  a reason why people like to be on the same plan is having medical expenses as one family deductible.

Getting married gives you more options for your health insurance. There are plenty of case-specific variables in play, but the bottom line is to explore your options. Both employer and marketplace insurance plans have their benefits. It’s up to you to weigh the benefits and determine what plan is the best fit for you and your new family.

Image Courtesy of Scott Webb

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