Family Health Insurance Plans
Family health insurance plans are great options for households that would like to provide medical coverage to multiple family members all under the same policy.
Most health insurance providers offer family health insurance plans in addition to individual health insurance plans. As umbrella health insurance options for entire households, family health insurance plan units cost significantly more than individual plans and sometimes require that covered family members meet additional medical criteria to be eligible for the program.
Family health insurance plans can provide coverage for immediate family members and sometimes extended family as well. This type of medical coverage can last for varying periods of time and is most often paid on an annual basis, depending on the specific family health insurance plan. Choosing one comprehensive family health insurance plan instead of several individual plans for each family member needing coverage can save program enrollees a great deal of paperwork and time. Read on for more information about how family health insurance plans work, who can be added to family health insurance plans and what the primary benefits of family health insurance plans may be for you.
What is a family health insurance plan?
Family plans, also known as family floater insurance policies, are comprehensive, multi-person health insurance plans that are offered to eligible families as an alternative to having an individual health plan for each family member. For many families, managing multiple health insurance policies can become a significant burden, especially for larger households.
To qualify for a basic family health plan, a household can usually be composed of two parents and up to four children. Family health insurance plans that can cover more immediate family members or even extended family members are also available from many popular health insurance providers. Family floater insurance plans are typically available in two different forms for family members: full medical insurance and critical illness insurance.
Critical illness insurance covers the enrollee for any chronic illnesses like a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, etc. and can only apply to certain family members rather than to the entire family. At least one household member is required to have full medical insurance in a family health insurance plan.
When deciding whether to go for a family health plan or individual plans, looking at the minimum amount of coverage provided to enrollees is the best point of comparison. Make sure to check for coverage for any medical services you are sure at least one family member will be in need of. For example, if you are getting a family health care plan to cover young children, you should look at the children’s health services that are automatically included in each plan to find one that works for your entire family’s needs.
If you think you will want to include a new family member in the family floater policy, you should make sure the policy will allow you to easily update its enrollees throughout the year. Once children age beyond the applicable age limit, their medical coverage will automatically expire under a family floater health plan.
Family health insurance plans usually have flexible maximum renewal ages, just like individual insurance plans. Especially if you are looking for senior health insurance options, you will want to make sure the maximum renewal age for enrollees is late enough to meet your family’s needs. Many programs offer maximum renewal age limits between 60 to 65 years of age, though some families may be able to find policies with lifelong renewal options.
Note that if the oldest member of the household ages beyond the renewal period, the entire plan is typically discontinued. Participating households can also increase the amount of coverage they would like to buy on an annual basis within most family floater health insurance policies. In most family health insurance plans, enrollees can access paperwork-free medical services and cashless services at in-network doctors and hospitals in the same way individually covered enrollees can.
Who can be added to a family health insurance plan?
Who can be included in your family health insurance plan may vary somewhat by insurance provider but is generally thought of in terms of tax dependency. A household typically consists of the tax filer, his or her spouse and tax dependents like children or aging parents. Sometimes, additional family members are also included in a taxable household for various reasons. Applications for family health insurance plans should include the information of all taxable individuals in the household who would or would not like medical coverage and should not include information about individuals who are not considered spouses or tax dependents.
Beyond your spouse and obvious tax dependents, it can be confusing for larger families to sort out who is eligible for medical coverage under a family health plan and who is not. To get a better idea of who can or cannot be included in your family health insurance plan, see which family members are eligible for coverage in the average family floater health policy below.
Family members you can have in a family health insurance plan include:
- Dependent children, including adopted and foster children – essentially any child you will claim as a tax dependent.
- Dependent parents – only parents you will claim as tax dependents.
- Dependent siblings and other relatives – only those who you will claim as tax dependents.
- Any children younger than 21 years of age whom you care for – any children who live with you, even if not your tax dependent.
- Spouses – legal spouse, whether living together or apart. Many family health plans require spouses to file taxes jointly in order to participate.
Family members you cannot have in a family health insurance plan include:
- Unborn children – Do not include babies until they are born.
- Non-dependent children or other relatives living with you – only those who you will claim as tax dependents.
- Legally separated or divorced spouse – even if you live together.
- Roommates (people you just live with) – unless they meet some other covered criteria.
Family members you can sometimes have in a family health insurance plan include:
- Children with shared custody – only children with shared custody whom you will claim as tax dependents.
- Non-dependent children under 26 – Include them only if desired and allowed by the plan.
- Unmarried domestic partner – only if you have a child together or you will claim a child together as a tax dependent.
There are several reasons a family may choose to opt for a family floater health policy over several individual health policies for each eligible household member. The most obvious benefit is the cutting down on all the work involved in organizing and paying the premiums for multiple insurance policies with different claims procedures, due dates and more. Even more, ensuring that each individual health plan included the benefits needed by each individual household member can be overwhelming.
Choosing a health plan for your entire family can help you guarantee that everyone in your family is getting the highest quality medical coverage possible. Some health insurance providers even offer two-year policy agreements to save you from having to complete the yearly re-enrollment process.
Most insurance programs allow enrollees in family health insurance plans to take advantage of the same network and all of the same discounts and other benefits associated with their individual health insurance plans. Because medical insurance providers are hoping to anticipate the needs of many families, many family health insurance plans provide extra benefits like extended maternity coverage or children’s services.
By combining what could be several premium payments into one lump cost, choosing a family health plan may also be able to save your family money. In addition, most insurance providers allow for additional family members outside of the basic allowance with the payment of an extra premium, including parents and in-laws. Eligible families may be able to pay a portion of the required insurance premium with funds from certified tax-deductible accounts.
Some family health plans also offer participating households a different deductible scheme that takes the entire family’s enrollment into consideration. As opposed to individual deductible limits, which require the enrollee to pay a certain amount in deductibles before he or she receives full coverage, a family deductible cap combines the deductible payments of all family members. This helps aim for a household deductible limit that, once reached, will allow all family members to access deductible-free care regardless of whether they have met their individual limit or not. If an individual family member reaches his or her personal deductible ceiling before the family meets its deductible cap, the family member will begin receiving full coverage as if participating in an individual health plan.