Can I Have Two Health Insurance Plans?

Fran
Lucy Lazarony
November 4, 2020

Like your health insurance plan? Why not have two? It is possible to have more than one health insurance plan and it can give you some additional health insurance coverage when you need it. We will look at the scenarios where having two health plans is possible and we’ll explain how your two plans work together to give you additional healthcare coverage.

Scenarios for Two Health Plans

When would two health plans be possible? There are three main scenarios.

1. You and your spouse or domestic partner both have healthcare through your respective employers or you may have private insurance. You could have coverage through your own plan and through your spouse’s or domestic partner’s health plan.

2. You are under the age of 26 and have healthcare coverage through your employer or your college or university and you are eligible to be added to a parent’s health plan as well.

3. You are a child and both parents list you as dependent on their health plans.

Primary and Secondary Coverage

How do the two health plans work together? One gives you primary coverage and the second one gives you secondary coverage.

If you have a health plan then this plan would typically be your primary coverage and coverage from a spouse’s or parent’s plan would provide secondary coverage.

A primary insurance plan pays for your health expenses and if there are additional expenses the secondary insurance plan comes in and pays for any covered expenses. The two plans work together to give you additional healthcare coverage but they will never pay more than 100 percent of the covered costs.

This working together between the two health plans is called a coordination of benefits. And this means you receive payments for services from both health plans. First, the payments come from the primary health plan and next your secondary plan comes with payments of its own.

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Choosing Primary Coverage with Children

If a child is listed as a dependent on both parents’ health plans, there is something called the “birthday rule” that decides which parent’s insurance plan will be the primary insurance plan for the child. The parent whose birthday falls earliest in the calendar year gets to provide the primary health plan for his or her son or daughter.

So if the mother had a March birthday and the father had a June birthday, the mother would get to provide the primary health plan to her child. And the father would provide secondary health insurance through his plan.

For divorced or separated parents, the parent who has the custody of the child provides the primary health plan. And the other spouse would provide secondary coverage through his or her health plan.

Using Private Health Plans

Got a private health plan? Ask your insurance provider about how much it would cost to add a partner, spouse or adult child to your plan. Or is it possible for you to piggyback off of a spouse or partner’s health plan? Do they have a private plan like you or do they have an employer plan? Do some research and choose the best two-plan dynamic for your family.

Expenses to Keep in Mind

You may have to pay deductibles for each of your insurance plans, whether they are employer plans or private health plans, depending on the type of coverage you have (PPOs, for instance, have a deductible you must meet in order to be covered). And don’t forget to add up how much you will be paying in premiums for both health plans. And believe it or not, even with two insurance plans it is possible that you will have some out-of-pocket costs.

Keep in mind these are separate health plans. You will have to follow the rules for each when making your claims and disputing a rejected claim if it comes to that.

You will have two sets of healthcare forms and documentation to keep track of. So be organized with all the paperwork, although much can be managed online. You will have two sets of customer service reps to reach out to if you have a question about a bill or service. You’ll have two sets of everything related to a health plan. As long as you stay organized and knowledgeable about what each plan covers and when, you’ll be all set.

Focus on what you will be using the health plan for. How will you be using the plan? Is it for routine, preventative care or do you have a recurring medical condition that needs attention? How will you mostly be using the health plan? Compare those provisions for each plan. Do you have a private health plan? How is it alike or different from a partner’s employer-based plan? How are the medical services that you need the most covered?

Stay in-network for each health plan as much as possible. You pay less when you choose an in-network provider. So there will be less of a bill for your two insurance companies to split. Be aware the savings with the two plans may be smaller than you expect. You might not see a big benefit to having two health plans, if the two health plans overlap in rates and the types of services covered. But if the plans differ in scope, giving you a wider range of coverage, you won’t have to pay as much as you would out-of-pocket as you would with a single health plan.

Advantages to Having Two Health Plans

Having two health plans helps you to maximize healthcare benefits. You will receive more coverage than you would with a single plan because you have a secondary coverage with the additional plan.

It costs little to be added to a parent’s or spouse’s employer health plan since some employer health plans offer family coverage at a flat rate. And if they are already offering insurance to another family member, adding you may come at no cost at all. This is a big benefit to families with more than one child under the age of 26. The second adult child gets added to a parent’s health plan free of charge.

For private health plans, ask your provider for how much it would cost to add an adult child onto the plan. Is it a good deal?

Here’s another advantage. Because you have health insurance coverage through a parent’s plan or a partner’s plan, you don’t have to worry about going uninsured if you lose your job or change jobs. You will have another health insurance policy to fall back on, which makes changing or losing a job a lot less stressful.

So if you have the opportunity definitely weigh the pros and cons of having not one but two healthcare plans. Check out the benefits of each plan and compare them with your most pressing healthcare needs. Check the costs of deductibles and premiums for both plans. Compare the plans to each other. Is one or both a private plan? Are they alike or very different? Do they overlap? Will there be a lot of out-of-pocket costs? Will the two work together to give you the healthcare coverage you are looking for? Once you weigh the costs and the benefits, you may see that having two health plans is the right option for you. And if you try it for a while and decide that it is not for you, you can always switch back to having a single healthcare plan.

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