What You Need to Know
- Millions of people lost employer-sponsored coverage during the pandemic.
- Most respondents who married for insurance said they'd rather have a separate plan from their spouse.
- It's OK for a couple with different coverage needs to have two separate health plans to save money, a health insurance professional says.
Of the estimated 1.3 million couples who were married in the U.S. in 2020, 26% said they did so because either they or their partner needed health insurance, according to a new survey from AffordableHealthInsurance.com.
This finding is not particularly surprising considering that nearly half of Americans receive health insurance through their employers. In the first half of 2020, some 7.7 million people lost their jobs because of the pandemic and ensuing economic recession, forcing millions to seek alternative ways to receive health care.
The survey platform Pollfish conducted the online survey in early August among 1,350 American adults who confirmed at the start of the survey that they were married during the pandemic.
Affordable Health Insurance noted that many couples who married in 2020 might have waited until the pandemic was over before doing so, or perhaps had not even intended to get married, but were pressured to do so by job and insurance losses.
Twenty-eight percent of respondents in the lowest income categories, households making less than $50,000, reported that they had married for insurance.
Getting married for health insurance is a legal alternative, David Clark, lawyer and partner at The Clark Law Office, said in the report.
“Getting married for health insurance is a common practice, but while it is a taboo subject, it cannot be considered fraud per se provided all the requisites of marriage are met,” Clark said.
He pointed out that insurance companies require a valid marriage for the spouses to receive the benefit. It does not matter that a marriage was one of convenience.
Preference for Separate Plans
Sixty-five percent of couples surveyed who married for health insurance said they would rather not share a plan with their partner, but this choice is no longer an option for them.
“Marriage has proven to be a feasible option for people who could not afford health insurance and could not get coverage as individuals,” Clark said. “People who get married will have to bear not just the benefits, but all the obligations, responsibilities and consequences of this binding contract regardless of the reasons behind the marriage.”