Affordable Care Act: It doesn’t matter where you get coverage

“I thought I understood Obamacare but after talking to my (mostly moronic) father I’m really confused and very distraught.


My employer allows my fiancée on my insurance, even if we are not yet married.  During our open enrollment, I enrolled both of us.  Her employer also offers insurance but my insurance is a better deal on our income.


My father told me that with Obamacare, if a spouse or domestic partner has insurance offered by their own employer, they have to be dropped off their spouse or partner’s insurance and get the insurance offered by their own employer.  So in this case, I would have to drop her from my insurance because her employer offers insurance, and she would legally have to get insurance from her employer. 

Is this true? 

I assumed that you could get insurance any way, as long as you have it.  And that it was the employer’s discretion whether to offer it to spouses or partners.  Now I’m concerned because she missed her open enrollment from her employer, which would have been a better price than the stupid market place.” 

Family Feud in New Jersey


Dear Family Feud in New Jersey, 

You are correct.  The health reform law does not dictate how a person gets his or her insurance, as long as he has it.  You are also correct that the employer can choose to refuse spouses or partners who have coverage offered to them elsewhere; it’s not the government making that choice.  As long as your employer has not restricted spouses or partners, you and your fiancé are all set with your plan.

If you or your fiancée lost your coverage – such as you quit your job to start your own company – you would be able to join her plan (if they cover partners).  Losing coverage is a “family status change” which would allow you to enroll in a plan, even when it is not open enrollment season.  You can’t switch plans willy nilly whenever you want to, but you can when you need to.  I mention this in case your employer decides to refuse spouses or domestic partners in the future.

Please be a gracious winner of your family feud game!

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.