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Average Cost of Health Insurance for a Married Couple

6 min read

30 sec brief

You might have heard someone joke about getting married for the tax benefits and think marriage would make everything, including health insurance, cheaper.  Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. As a married couple, your cost of health insurance will largely depend on whether or not one or both of you has employer-sponsored health insurance, and whether or…

You might have heard someone joke about getting married for the tax benefits and think marriage would make everything, including health insurance, cheaper.  Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true. As a married couple, your cost of health insurance will largely depend on whether or not one or both of you has employer-sponsored health insurance, and whether or not that employer-sponsored health insurance covers dependents.

If You Both Have Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

You might have heard someone joke about getting married for the tax benefits and think marriage would make everything, including health insurance, cheaper.  Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true.  As a married couple, your cost of health insurance will largely depend on whether or not one or both of you has employer-sponsored health insurance, and whether or not that employer-sponsored health insurance covers dependents.

You’re in luck!  If you’re both employed by a company or companies that contribute to your health insurance premiums, maintaining your individual coverage with your respective employers is almost always the cheapest way to go.  That’s because, on average, individuals pay 18% of the cost of premiums for their employer-sponsored health insurance, whereas families pay an average of 29% of the cost.  And that’s if the employer’s cost-sharing plan covers dependents.  If the employer doesn’t cover dependents, you’ll have to pay the entire cost of your spouse’s premium out-of-pocket.

In 2019, the average monthly premium an individual will pay for employer-sponsored health insurance is:

  • $284 for an HMO plan,
  • $243 for a PPO plan
  • $149 for a POS plan, and
  • $189 a HDHP. 

It’s important to note that the cost of your premium will largely depend on where you’re located and the amount to which your employer is able and willing to contribute to your health insurance costs.  To get an estimate of health insurance cost in your area, check out the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Health Insurance Calculator.

When thinking about the cost of health insurance, people often focus on premiums (i.e. the monthly fee you pay to keep your health insurance active).  But it’s important to note that the deductible for families, i.e. the amount you must pay before your health insurance starts to pay, is often more than double the deductible for individuals.  So if you both have employer-sponsored health insurance, it’s likely to be cheaper for you to maintain your individual coverage from a deductible perspective as well.

If One of You has Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

If only one of you has employer-sponsored health insurance, the cost of your combined health coverage will depend on how much, if any, your employer contributes to dependent coverage.  According to the KFF, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums for families rose 5% in 2019 to an average of $19,616 annually, or $1,635 per month.  Since employees cover 29% of the cost of premiums, on average, that would mean your monthly cost would be $474. 

Now, this number is an average of all plan types in all areas of the country.  As you can see above, costs can vary widely depending on the type of health insurance plan you buy, and your location.

If only one of you has employer-sponsored health insurance and that employer doesn’t contribute to the cost of dependents, buying the family coverage through said employer might still be worth it.  That’s because employers are often able to negotiate better rates with health insurance providers than individuals can, so the premium you’ll pay for each individual added to the plan could be cheaper than what you’d find out in the marketplace for the same insurance.  You’ll also get the added benefit of paying for the premium pre-income tax, therefor lowering your overall income tax liability.

If Neither of You has Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

If this is the case, you’ll have to go to the ACA Marketplace to purchase a plan.  Pricing will largely depend on your location, but the average monthly premium for individuals on the marketplace is $453 during open enrollment for 2019, and $1,226 for families.  To get an accurate quote based on your personal information, use the health insurance calculator mentioned above.  Depending on the plans available in your area, it might be cheaper to get coverage individually than as a family unit.

When you get married, you often start to think of yourselves as a family.  But whether or not it makes sense to buy health insurance as a family will depend largely on your individual situation.  Especially if there are no children to consider yet.  Make sure to explore all of your options before making a decision as health insurance can be a costly line-item in any budget.

Healthcare Cost Series

Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.

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