Forgot to add wife to health plan

My wife quit her job to take care of her dying mother.  In all of the hub bub of her mother dying, I forgot to add her to my health plan.  When I went to my employer, they said I would have to pay the previous four months of her coverage – that’s when she lost her plan.  Can they do that?  It seems unfair!

Four Months Arrears

Dear Four Months Arrears,

Yes they can and they may have to in order for the insurer to allow your spouse to be added. Spouses can be added to a group plan during open or annual enrollment, or when certain changes happen such as the spouse loses a job. You can’t simply add a spouse at a whim.

By paying the four months premiums, you are effectively adding your spouse when you would have been allowed to.  The insurer is trying to protect itself against people joining the plan when they have a medical expense to pay, and then dropping out when they recover.

You could decide to wait until your plan’s next open enrollment to add her.  It depends upon how much risk you are willing to take for her medical bills, if something were to happen to her.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.