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So, I'm currently just on regular travel insurance which is valid for 45 days.. About to expire soon - Employers here in Hawaii are required to provide health benefits to all employees who are employed more than 20 hours per week, and I have a few job options lined up that are looking good. However, my wife is currently insured through her employer. Neither of us really have any experience what so ever with health insurance, and neither of us really know how the system here works (she's always just been insured under her parents or work). In my country, for better or for worse, everyone is automatically insured from birth with no say in the matter, so I really have no idea how this works..

What's "normal"? Is it normal for each spouse to be insured separately? I see a lot of members here mention that they're under their spouse's insurance - Is this something you have to apply for? Is it a difficult process? Can I have my own insurance and be insured under her insurance at the same time?

How does this work? Should we add me to her insurance, or is it better to be insured through my (eventual) employer? Or should I freak out and start shopping for insurance online immediately?


Edited by Jay Jay

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You can get our own insurance, but it is usually chaeper to add a spouse and coverage is better. Review your options.

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It really varies based on the employer's insurance coverage and how much they subsidize vs. how much the employee is expected to pay. There have been other VJ-ers where if their spouse had added them to their employer-sponsored insurance, their monthly contribution would have more than doubled. In other cases, the cost doesn't increase as much, so it makes more sense to be on the spouse's plan.

The process for applying is pretty standard to filling out forms -- and we're all used to that with this process! Your spouse would just need to fill in your name, contact information, etc. It may change in the future, but insurance companies typically only want you covered under one plan, so be sure to weigh your options if you choose to be insured in two places. You may have to complete additional documents listing your coverage via spouse at your new job and your spouse would need to complete similar information on their insurance.

That said, you typically have 30 days from a life event, e.g. you immigrating to the U.S., to make changes to the insurance plan outside the open enrollment period. So, if your job prospects aren't starting very soon, you should definitely look into the cost of your spouse's insurance benefits.

When you start your new job, there is usually an option to opt-out of being insured if you're on another family member's plan. You would have to sign a form stating something to the effect of "the employer offered insurance, but I declined."

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What's "normal"?


Hi Jay-jay...

In terms of health insurance there is no 'normal'. It is a matter of cost-benefit and individual preference.

It is not uncommon for working spouses to be covered under the better policy, if both work places offer health benefits. At this point, if your insurance is about to expire and your wife can add you to her policy, that, IMHO, would be the better option for you, so that you are not left without coverage if your current insurance expires before you get a job. Once you get a job which offers health insurance, it might behoove you to do the math and compare the options of you remaining in your wife's coverage, or moving her to your policy or even keeping separate policies. Some employers and health insurance companies will only allow for 'life events' - i.e. marriage, divorce, children - during a certain period, which means there may be a deadline by which your wife can add you to her policy before having to wait for the next enrollment period at the end of 2013, so do some digging and find out what that deadline is, if any there should be, so you are not left without insurance, in case your job takes longer than planned to come through.

I hope this helps!



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^Yes its usually 30 days to add someone on to a policy. So if your wife has a policy through her employer she has a limited window where she would be able to add you. Based on the fact that your 45 day travel ins is about to expire soon her window may be closing or may already be closed, so you need to contact the HR dept at her job immediately to find out if you can be added to her ins and at what cost.

If you can not be added, then your choices for ins would be- obtaining it through and employer or purchasing it on your own. It is significantly cheaper to obtain it through and employer. You get a 'group' discount so to speak because the cost is subsidized. (the employer pays some and the more people covered the less everybody pays overall)

When you start a job theres usually a waiting period before youre eligible for benefits. (vacation/medical/sick days) Often its 3 months. When you quit the job, your coverage ends, but you do have the option of using a service called 'Cobra' to keep your healthcare until you find a new job. You would pay extremely high premiums for I believe up to 6 months if you chose to, until you found a new job and had new coverage kick in, but Cobra is optional. Most people dont use Cobra, because like I said the monthly cost is so high its usually more then you would spend on healthcare for the month unless you had a pre existing medical condition.

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