Getting Engaged? How Should You Handle Health Insurance?

By: Pat Carpenter

When preparing for marriage, many happy Texan couples spend months planning for their special day to make sure it takes place without a hitch. But how many engaged couples put that kind of preparation into sharing a life together, especially when it comes to making sure their existing health insurance policies will adequately cover them both? So before you head off on your honeymoon, here are some things to consider:

If you're both covered by an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, it might make sense to integrate your plans. You and your significant other should determine which of the two plans is more attractive and obtain coverage under that plan. If your spouse is uninsured, you can add him/her to the existing policy.

When comparing policies, you should consider the following:
- Monthly premiums
- Deductibles
- Co-payments for routine and emergency care
- Doctors and hospitals that participate in each plan (e.g., if it's a Health Maintenance Organization or Preferred Provider Organization)
- Any additional coverage provided (e.g., dental, vision care, prescription drugs, etc.).
- Waiting period for spouses.

If you're an unmarried couple living together, you both may have a more difficult time getting coverage if a significant other is uninsured because employer-sponsored health plans don't always offer domestic partner coverage. For plans that do offer this coverage, the value of the coverage provided to the partner is taxable as income for the employee and may not provide suitable benefits for the couple. Individual health insurance policies may be a more appropriate option, and in many cases, the only option.

Individual policies should also be an option for married couples where an employer has dramatically increased the employee's share of the premium to cover spouses, or stopped offering coverage for spouses altogether because of the extra expense. Monthly premiums for individual health insurance plans for a married couple may be less expensive than your share of the monthly premium offered through an employer's group insurance policy.

Getting married is a major event in every individual's life. And with this major event comes a major change in responsibilities. Reexamining your health insurance needs before the ceremony is over will help you sustain your relationship through sickness and in health.

When you're planning the wedding of your dreams, you should also shop carefully for the right health insurance plan for both of you. Look for high-quality individual health insurance at affordable rates, specifically created for young, healthy individuals.

Health Insurance
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