Health Insurance Center

Health Insurance Q & As

Question 5 of 7 in Basics
What’s the difference between primary and secondary coverages?
Since many people have available medical insurance from more than one plan (such as two employed spouses covered under group health insurance plans), insurance companies do not want insureds to profit through their health insurance. To prevent double recovery, most health insurance plans have provisions which determine how primary versus secondary coverage will be determined.

Primary coverage is provided through the plan of which they are a member (such as the spouses both covered through their respective employment - the primary coverage is provided under the plan provided by the employer of each spouse) or the plan under which the member has been a participant for the longest time period.

Secondary coverage, usually as a result of being covered as a dependent under someone else's health insurance plan, provides reimbursement for medical expenses after exhaustion of coverage available through the primary plan.