Secondary Insurance

What Is Secondary Insurance?

Secondary insurance is when someone is covered under two health plans; one plan will be designated as the primary health insurance plan and the other will be the secondary insurance. The primary insurance is where health claims are submitted first. The secondary insurance will then pay for whatever remaining costs are eligible for coverage under its health plan.

When two health insurance providers work together in this way to provide coverage, this is called coordination of benefits. Insurance providers can thereby avoid duplicate payments for claims. This doesn’t mean that you get double the payments or reimbursements; however, it may help cover health care costs if one plan has better coverage for a service than the other plan.

Supplementary insurance, like vision, dental, or accident coverage, is also sometimes referred to as secondary insurance.

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Who Can Have Secondary Insurance?

There aren’t eligibility requirements for who can have secondary insurance, but there are three cases when this is most common:

Can You Choose Which Plan Is Primary and Which Is Secondary?

The short answer is no, you can’t. As outlined above, an individual’s employer-sponsored plan will always be primary. Even if a spouse or parent’s plan has better coverage or maybe a lower deductible, you can’t submit claims to them first.

In the case of a minor child, if both parents have the same birthday or are divorced, individuals covered by the plans still won’t be the ones to choose.