Insuring your family

Your health plan probably gives you the option of insuring your immediate family, too. Here’s what you need to know to get your family on your plan.

Single plan or family plan

This one may sound like a no-brainer. If you’re single, you choose a single plan and if you have a family, you choose the family plan, right? Well, probably. But there are other factors to consider, like the number of people the plan will allow and at what cost.

If you’re married, you can choose either a single or family plan, or even dual coverage. Some insurers offer a two-party plan. If you don’t have health insurance, the best choice may be to join your spouse’s plan.

If you both have health insurance, it might be cheaper for each of you to have a single plan. This way, you can both keep your doctors, which might not be possible if your spouse has a different health insurer.

When you both have health insurance and a family or two-party plan makes the most sense for you, you’ll need to decide whose plan to choose. Here are some important things to consider:

  • Which plan has better benefits for your needs?
  • How much do you have to pay before the plan starts paying?
  • Which plan has higher out-of-pocket costs?
  • Which plan has the providers you want?
  • Which plan offers more ways to plan and save?

Download this plan comparison chart to see which plan is best for you.

It all comes down to money and personal preference on the care you want. Compare plans to decide if a single plan or family plan will maximize your benefits.

Civil unions

If you’re in a civil union, check with your employer to see if their policies allow you to enroll your partner in your plan.

Dual coverage

Dual coverage means you’re enrolled in two different health insurance plans. For example:

  • If you have two jobs, you could have health plans from both employers.
  • If you’re married, you and your spouse could receive benefits from both employers’ health plans.

If you have children enrolled in both plans or if you have a serious injury, illness, or long hospital stay, dual coverage could save you money.

Coordination of benefits guidelines say which plan pays first and which plan pays second, but health insurance companies have their own rules for paying claims. Make sure you review both plans’ benefits and tell both plans that you have dual coverage.


Most family plans will pay for benefits for your children up to age 26. Check with your employer to see if your plan will let you add your children as dependents.

If you have children and can enroll them in your plan, family plans are probably the way to go. But keep in mind the same considerations we explained previously for married couples. If you and your spouse have single plans, compare your benefits to see which would be best for your children. Or, dual coverage is an option.

Families, like health insurance, are complex. Do your homework to see what the plans pay for and how much it’s going to cost.

Life-changing events
If you get married or have a baby, there’s a short window of time (usually 30 days) to add your spouse or child to your plan. Make sure you don’t miss the deadline and leave your loved one uninsured. Check with your employer to see when and how to add a dependent to your plan.