Can I designate primary and secondary health coverage myself?

UPDATED: Apr 27, 2015

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UPDATED: Apr 27, 2015Fact Checked

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Asked April 27, 2015

1 Answer


You can try to designate your primary and secondary coverages, but any time you have redundant coverage is an opportunity for the insurance company to deny a claim. Instead, you would be better served by a secondary health insurance plan which fills gaps in the primary plan without duplicating the coverage it already provides. In most cases, the policy you purchased first will serve as the primary policy, but it may be possible to coordinate benefits through the insurers to use the second policy as you primary coverage.

Insurance companies talk to each other, and you cannot hide having a second insurance plan from them. When you file a claim, your "primary" coverage may deny the claim on the grounds that it is covered by the second policy. To keep the two separate, one policy should cover most of your medical needs, while the other provides coverage such as prescription and medical equipment coverage, extended hospital stays, and any other areas not fully covered by the primary. By avoiding conflicts in coverage, you can manage your health care without having to sort out which company should pay.

In most cases, your primary health insurance will be the plan purchased through an employer or other group insurance program, while the secondary policy is secured through a different affiliation. Secondary coverage tends to be more specialized than the primary coverage, omitting much of the preventive care and enhancing the care available.

If the policies are for different health care networks, you can greatly increase your care options by having two health insurance plans. One plan might cover your family doctor and general care while the other one includes a recommended specialist that you need to see on a regular basis. In this way, using the plans in conjunction with each other will keep down your out of pocket costs without sacrificing the care you need.

Answered May 1, 2015 by Anonymous

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