Can You Have 2 Health Insurance Plans?

It never hurts to have extra insurance.

Sometimes, people may find themselves in situations where they are covered by dual insurances. For instance, a child below the age of 26 may be covered by his parents’ insurance and may have his employer’s insurance as well. But is it legally allowed? How do two insurances work? Let’s find out.

Is It Illegal To Have 2 Health Insurance?

There is no law that makes it illegal to have 2 health insurances. Many people have two health insurances under special circumstances.

How Can I Get A Second Health Insurance?

A second health insurance plan also called a secondary, voluntary or supplemental plan covers all the services and cares that a primary health plan may not. For instance, the primary plan may provide coverage for doctor’s visits, regular prescriptions and lab tests. A secondary plan can provide additional coverage for accidents, dental visits, disabilities and vision, etc.

Most secondary health plans are sold by private insurance companies. Each has its own terms and conditions and may provide coverage for a specific service only. If you have an individual insurance plan purchased through the marketplace, you can get secondary coverage through a private insurance company.

Your employer’s insurance may also give you the option to add one or more voluntary plans during enrollment as well. If this is not the case, you may go for purchasing insurance through a private vendor.

How Do You Determine Which Health Insurance Is Primary?

Which health insurance is primary and which is secondary is usually determined by the situation you’re in and your plan itself. There can be several scenarios but we cover the basic ones here:

  1. If you’re a child covered by both your parents, the insurance of the parent whose birthday comes first will be your primary insurer.
  2. If your parents are divorced, the parent who has custody will be your primary health insurance provider. If they have joint custody the birthday rule applies again.
  3. If one parent has group insurance and the other has individual insurance, the one with the group insurance provides primary insurance.
  4. If both the spouses have insurance from their respective employees that covers their partner as well, the employee insurance will be considered primary insurance.
  5. If you are covered by your spouse’s health plan as well as your parents’, the spouse’s plan is the primary insurance plan.
  6. If you have a health plan and also receive Medicaid, your health plan will be the primary plan and the Medicaid will be considered supplemental.

There can be other laws determining which health insurance is primary and which is secondary. Go through your policy in detail and compare costs and benefits to make a better decision.

Can You Use 2 Different Vision Insurance Plans?

Yes, you can have two different vision insurance plans for yourself. Most times, one vision plan may cover contact lenses and the other will cover frames, and each may be offered separately to each parent or spouse etc. In this case, you first need to see if the amount that you’ll have to pay for the two insurances is not more than the service if you had it individually. For instance, you may get glasses for a price less than if you went for the secondary insurance. Remember, you may still have to pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs as well for each insurance.

If you have two plans, you could receiver two different services under each plan (get glasses under the plan that covers glasses only) or you could go for coordinating benefits, which means that both plans will pitch in the cost of the single service. Your primary insurer will cover the initial bill and the secondary insurer will cover the remaining bill if there is any.

Does Secondary Insurance Cover Copay?

A secondary insurance plan does not replace the primary insurance plan – it only covers costs that may not be covered by the primary insurance. Among the several types of secondary insurance, gap insurance or limited benefits insurance covers copay. It is specifically designed to help you pay out of pocket costs, including the deductible and co-insurance.

Pros And Cons Of Having Two Health Insurances

Who should get double health insurance? Generally, people who have jobs that put them at high risk, for instance, a construction site worker, a stuntman, a rally car driver, etc. Other people who are prone to getting injuries because of their hobbies may also look at getting double insurance. Even if you are not at high risk of illnesses or accidents, you may have an insurance plan with a high deductible, or your plan may not cover some of the costs you may need down the road. It’s a good idea to look at some of the pros and cons of having two health insurances before you decide.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of having two health insurances.

  1. Secondary coverage covers the limits on the primary coverage. Your insurance may provide coverage up to a certain amount, say $50,000. If your bill exceeds that, you’ll have to pay it yourself unless you have secondary coverage, in which case the bill will be covered by secondary coverage.
  2. Secondary coverage acts as a shelter in case you lose your job and the insurance provided by your employer. It will act as the primary insurance until you get new primary insurance.
  3. Reduce medical costs. In case of any medical service, the primary coverage takes over and pays for claims as if it is the only insurance with the individual. Then, any leftover bills are passed on to the secondary insurance. This means the individual will have to pay little to no costs for the service.

Now, let’s go over the cons.

  1. You’ll have double the premiums and possibly, double the deductibles as well. Without paying the deductible, the health plan does not provide any coverage.
  2. As if one insurance company and its paperwork were not enough, you’ll have to handle two different companies. This includes keeping abreast with their premiums and any other bills and changes in policy.
  3. You’ll have to remember the covered benefits of each plan. One plan might pay for a certain service, while the other denies it.
  4. You would likely have to stick with in-network plans as much as you can for both the insurances.
  5.  You’ll have to remember whether the plan is a health maintainance organization plan (HMO) or a preferred provider organization (PPO). Both are designed differently and may not be applicable in certain settings.
  6. More paperwork if an insurance provider or both deny claims and provide less than you expected.


Having two health insurance is legally allowed in the US. You may have the dual insurance through your parents, your employee or your spouse, or you may choose to get second insurance yourself. Whatever the case may be, make sure to compare the costs of extra insurance with the benefits and the coverage it provides.

Charles Bains

Charles Bains

Charles Bains started his insurance career as a marketing intern before pounding the pavement as a commercial lines agent in Orlando, FL. As an industry journalist, his articles have appeared in a variety of trade publications. His insurance television career, short-lived but glorious, once saw him serve as the expert adviser on an insurance-themed infomercial (yes, you read that correctly). Having recently worked for various organizations, coupled with his broader insurance knowledge, Charles is able to understand our client’s needs and guide them accordingly. He is a gem for Insurance Noon as his wide area of expertise and experience have been beneficial in conducting further researches to come up with solutions and writing them in a manner which is easy for everyone including beginners to comprehend.

Insurance Noon is the world's leading source of insurance related content on the web, focusing on industry news, buying guides, reviews, and much more.