Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2021

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Obtaining healthcare coverage can be extremely costly for those not covered under an employer-sponsored program.

Even some employer programs are down right expensive these days, depending on the claims history and/or size of the company. Sometimes private insurance may be less expensive, but if your place of work offers coverage, you may be required to use what they offer or face a penalty.

Typically, insurance premiums are higher in smaller companies or those unfortunate enough to have a bad claims history. However, for the most part, the insurance rate you’re going to get from your employer is going to be the best bet in terms of what’s offered on the market.

For these reasons, many individuals find themselves asking if they can purchase health insurance for their partners. After, all the couple that saves together stays safe together.

What are the questions that should be asked before making a decision?

– Can I purchase healthcare coverage in the open market for my girlfriend or boyfriend?

First, if you are simply wondering if you’re able to purchase a health insurance policy for a girlfriend or boyfriend in the open market, the answer is “yes.”

In fact, you can purchase a policy for just about anyone. It’s not limited to partners, but can also be purchased if you’re married or designated as domestic partners. You can even get coverage for your child, or your entire family!

You simply fill out a quote request with an independent agent or direct insurer, and if the person to be covered meets the underwriting guidelines of the company providing the quote, you can purchase the policy.

All you have to do is continue to make payments if you are the policyholder.

– Will my employer-sponsored program cover my (non-married) significant other?

But what most individuals really want to know is if an employer-sponsored program will insure their partner. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “no.”

Employer heath insurance plans require a couple to be married in order for the unwed significant other to qualify for the plan.

This is likely a mechanism designed to protect the insurance company from individuals attempting to obtain coverage for someone they simply know, which would make healthcare a virtual free for all. Domestic partners used to also be accepted, however this has changed for a few providers; it would be wise to consult with them first.

– Can I get coverage under common law marriage, which is only recognized in some states.

When it comes to common law marriage, the answer is a vague “maybe.”

In some states, Texas for example, the courts recognize common law marriage based on people living together for certain time periods. This means that you’d be considered a married couple if you’ve lived under the same roof legally on paper for whatever time period is required.

You may be considered to be common law married without filing any paperwork or entering into any sort of contract.

But if you are not contractually common law married, you have no rights if you move to another state. It can seem harsh, but it’s to prevent any sort of lapse in coverage or someone moving far out of the range of that particular provider.

If there is a contract involved, you have some rights as far as healthcare is considered.  As this is only an insurance website, we recommend consulting an attorney if you have questions regarding that specific situation.

If you do not meet the requirements for marriage, but want to obtain health insurance coverage for a significant other, you may want to contact an independent agent or getting quotes online to ensure you get the best coverage at the lowest possible rate.

Read more: Top 10 Health Insurance Companies