Over Here, Over There: How To Make The Most Of Family Health Plans

Two-parent working homes often have access to two insurance plans provided by employers. Even if one employer only provides a stipend for employees to purchase insurance on "the exchange," there are still extra options here. Do you insure your whole family under this plan or that one? Should your spouse bear the full burden of the insurance for everyone, or does it make better financial sense to put the kids on a different plan? Should you even consider juggling plans? Here is how to answer these questions and make the most of whatever health plans you have access to. 

The Cheapest Plan with the Lowest Deductible

Really, what you should be shooting for is the cheapest plan with the lowest deductible possible. This is tricky, considering that most health insurance plans will give you one or the other, but never both low deductibles and low costs. Low costs often mean high deductibles, and conversely, high costs mean low deductibles. If you can find a plan that covers the whole family for half the cost and nearly equal expense on price and deductibles, grab it. Be sure to compare the plan your spouse's employer offers against the plan your employer offers, as well as any equivalent plans on "the exchange," to get the best possible deal. 

Never Choose a Family Plan Based on Convenience

Never say that because your spouse makes more money with a good insurance plan, it is just convenient to put the whole family on that plan. Convenience should never be the reason you choose a plan. It should not be a matter of who makes more money, either, because the person making more money is the actual breadwinner in the house. The second income person should cover health insurance, if and when possible, so that the person making more money can bring home more money and not lose it to the costs of the family health plan. 

When Only One Employer Offers Insurance and It Is Too Expensive for the Whole Family

People are shocked to learn that when they ask for health insurance for their whole families, the pre-tax amount taken from their checks is almost the whole lump sum of one of their checks every month. Even more shocking is when the children are removed from the plan, and the plan covers only the employee and the spouse, how much that amount drops. If your spouse's employer offers insurance, but this is the scenario you are looking at, consider signing the kids up for Medicaid instead. Medicaid usually covers children, regardless of age, when parents cannot afford to cover both the kids and themselves with health insurance. 

Keep these tips in mind as contact insurance companies to learn more about family health insurance plans.