Adding Your Spouse to Health Insurance After Marriage
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If Father of the Bride taught us anything, it’s that the process of planning a wedding is….well, hectic, at best. While a million things can go wrong in the lead-up to the big day, we’re hopeful that once you finally got there, the wedding was everything you dreamed of, and more.
What you probably weren’t daydreaming about when picturing your dream wedding was whether or not to add your spouse to your health insurance after you merged your lives together.
While this question might seem straightforward, there are actually a few key considerations to keep in mind as you combine your insurance policies — like, for instance, whose policy has the best coverage, or whether it’s actually more affordable to maintain two separate policies.
In this article, we’ll review how to get your better half onto your employer-sponsored plan (if that’s what you’ve decided!). We’ll also share some other important considerations to weigh as you decide whether, how, and when to merge your health insurance.
Before we get into how to add your spouse to your health insurance plan, you’ll first need to decide whether or not you should get onto the same policy in the first place. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer. You’ll have to assess what makes the most sense for your specific situation — but there are a few factors that can help you make the decision more easily.
First: if your partner doesn’t have existing health coverage, that should make the decision for you. As long as you can afford to add them to your plan, it’s probably a smart idea to do so.
If they are currently covered, you’ll want to compare both of your health insurance options by total costs and benefits. Be sure to consider the following:
Your company may include a spousal surcharge for adding your significant other to your policy if they have access to another insurance plan through their own employer. Your company may even offer a financial incentive for you to switch to your spouse’s employer’s plan, since it will save your boss money if they don’t have to cover your health care. So look at your company policies closely to see if there are any penalties for adding your spouse or incentives for joining your spouse.
If it’s not cost-effective to add your spouse to your plan or if your policy doesn’t provide the coverage they need, they may be able to get their own insurance benefits through the health insurance marketplace. However, they may no longer qualify for a premium tax credit (subsidy) because they could access an employer-sponsored plan through you.
After weighing your options, you may find that it’s ultimately cheaper for you to obtain and retain individual policies. But remember, you’re married to each other — not your insurance plans. You’ll have opportunities to make changes in the future.
Note: While most employers offer spousal coverage, companies aren’t legally required to do so. You should ask your human resources (HR) department about your firm’s available policies — including a family plan, so you can also provide health benefits to your dependent child(ren), if or when you have them.
If you run the numbers and decide it makes financial sense to add your spouse to your policy, the good news is that it only takes a few pieces of info and a document here and there to get the process started.
Specifically, you’ll need some personal information about your spouse, such as their birth date and social security number, to add them to your employer-sponsored health insurance policy. You might also need to provide some required documentation, like a copy of your marriage certificate, to your HR department to prove they are your legal spouse. And no, 100 pictures of the wedding day itself probably won’t cut it.
Pro Tip: Since you’re in the process of adding your spouse to your health insurance, this would also be an excellent opportunity to review your life insurance beneficiaries (hint, hint!).
To add your spouse to your health insurance, you’ll need to fill out an enrollment form (paper-based or digital). But you’ll also want to consider the timing around when you do it. There are two instances in particular where you can update your health insurance.
Generally, you can only change your health insurance coverage or other benefits during your employer’s annual open enrollment season. Open enrollment often takes place over a two-week or one-month period, giving you time to explore your options, ask questions, and enroll in your selections. The coverage you choose is effective for the next plan year (often starting January 1st, but it can vary by company).
This is also a great time to speak with your company’s insurance provider to learn more about the benefits of adding your spouse to your policy and the best way to adjust your plan to accommodate both of you.
Don’t Forget: Once you’ve finished enrolling them on your plan, make sure your spouse gets their member ID cards. That way, they’ll have proof of insurance.
Life gets busy, so it can be easy to miss your open enrollment period when you have so much going on. If that happens, you’ll likely be stuck with whatever coverage you have until the next year — unless you experience a qualifying life event. Which brings us to….
The other option for changing your coverage is if you experience a qualifying life event. Qualifying events include, but aren’t limited to, welcoming a new child into your family, your spouse losing their existing health insurance, and — you guessed it! — getting married.
Since you experienced a life change (hello, newlyweds!), you can take advantage of a special enrollment period to update your benefits to reflect your new situation. Shortly after you get married, you can add your spouse to your insurance or drop your coverage to get on their plan.
Generally speaking, you have 60 days from your qualifying life event (a.k.a. the date of your marriage) to update your insurance. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to make changes.
Fun Fact: Some employers cover domestic partnerships, so you may even be able to insure your significant other before your wedding day. Ask your HR department about domestic partner eligibility if you want to start merging your lives pre-wedding.
As if there wasn’t enough to juggle in the lead up to the wedding (Flower arrangements! Caterers! Learning how to waltz in time for your first dance!), it turns out that there are still a million things to do afterwards, as you merge your life as a married couple.
And while it’s not the most exciting thing to think about, that includes insurance - health insurance, car insurance, you name it. Fortunately, Marble can help you manage and shop for new insurance when you need more or different coverage. Create your free account to get started today!