What is Supplemental Health Insurance?

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Contributor, Benzinga
January 20, 2022

Many men and women who get their first health insurance policy or who switch from an employer-sponsored plan to a Marketplace plan are often surprised at the number of things that may not be covered by their insurance. From dental care needs to short-term disability expenses if you are injured to the point where you cannot work, health insurance cannot cover everything. A supplemental health insurance plan can help you cover some of the expenses that you would normally be required to pay out of pocket. 

What Is Supplemental Health Insurance?

Supplemental health insurance coverage fills in some of the gaps left by your health insurance plan. Even the best health insurance will not cover every cost associated with your healthcare needs. Examples of things a supplemental insurance policy might pay for include:

  • Dental care costs
  • Vision expenses and care costs
  • Deductibles
  • Coinsurance percentages and copayments
  • Regular household expenses in the event that you are injured to the point where you cannot work or if you become permanently or temporarily disabled

As the name suggests, supplemental health insurance is not meant to replace a standard health insurance policy. Instead, you’re intended to purchase these policies in combination with an Affordable Care Act-compliant plan, Medicare or Medicaid policy. If you don’t already have a health insurance policy, you should focus on exploring your policy options before you start comparing supplemental options.       

What Can Supplemental Health Insurance Cover?

There are multiple types of supplemental policies can purchase to add another layer of protection to your coverages. Available supplemental health insurance includes:

Dental insurance

Many health insurance policy owners are surprised to learn that long-term health insurance plan providers are not required to cover dental insurance as one of their essential health benefits. Dental insurance is supplemental coverage that helps you pay for the costs of routine dental care and specialized treatments. Most dental insurance plans provide free or low-cost preventive treatments, including annual cleanings and X-rays to detect any underlying dental issues. Dental insurance policies also provide partial coverage for regular corrective dental conditions like fillings, bridges and dentures.

Like health insurance policies, most dental insurance policies include separate deductibles you must meet before your insurance will begin paying for your dental care costs. Unlike Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant health insurance policies, dental insurance plans may also include an annual or lifetime maximum dollar amount of benefits you can claim. Once you reach your policy’s maximum, you will be responsible for paying all your additional dental care costs out of pocket.

Vision insurance

Like dental insurance, ACA-compliant plans are not required to provide coverage for vision care needs as standard plan inclusions. A vision insurance plan can help you pay for glasses, contact lenses and annual exams you need to keep your prescription current and check for any type of eye diseases that might develop.

Most vision insurance plans include an annual allowance you can use for either frames or contact lenses. Anything you spend on your corrective treatments beyond your allowance is typically paid out of pocket. For example, you might have a vision insurance plan with a $200 allowance for frames but want to purchase a pair of glasses that costs $250. In this circumstance, your insurance would cover $200 out of your $250 bill, and you would pay the remaining $50.

Disability insurance

Though your health insurance coverage will help you pay for immediate medical care you require after a traumatic accident as well as the ongoing physical therapy or occupational therapy you might need to regain motor skills, you may not be able to work after a debilitating accident. Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income if you’re unable to work after becoming disabled. There are both short-term and long-term disability insurance policies available.

Cancer or critical illness insurance

Like disability insurance, your health insurance policy will cover cancer and critical illness treatments. However, like almost every type of insurance, you’ll usually need to meet deductibles and coinsurance percentages while using your insurance to cover your care costs. This can quickly add up to thousands of dollars before you reach your policy’s out-of-pocket maximum — and if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness, you may not be able to work during this time.

A cancer, critical illness or hospital confinement insurance plan can help you pay for recurring and out-of-pocket expenses if you’re diagnosed with a serious illness or you’re hospitalized for a long period of time. These plans may pay for deductibles, groceries, prescriptions and other costs your health insurance doesn’t cover. These plans may be associated with a specific illness (like a certain type of cancer or kidney failure) or they may be more general, extending to multiple types of illnesses. 

Why Do You Need Supplemental Health Insurance?

Situations when you might want to invest in supplemental health insurance, including the following:

  • You have poor or incomprehensive insurance: If you have insurance that doesn’t cover all your health needs, you may want to purchase a supplemental insurance policy. For example, if you have a health insurance policy that doesn’t offer any form of coverage for dental health needs, you may want to purchase supplemental insurance to offset these costs.
  • You have a family history or predisposition to a serious critical illness: If you have a family history of a critical illness that can make it difficult or impossible to work after diagnosis, you may want to invest in a cancer insurance, disability insurance or critical illness insurance policy to protect you in the event that you get sick and need assistance covering everyday needs.

Even if you have federal health insurance like Medicare or Medicaid, a supplemental insurance policy can still be beneficial to your household.        

Compare Supplemental Health Insurance Plans

As you can see, there are multiple types of supplemental health insurance plans you may want to invest in. Benzinga offers insights and reviews on the following supplemental health insurance coverage providers. You may want to consider beginning your search for the best possible supplemental insurance to complement your coverage using the links below.  

Is Supplemental Health Insurance Worth the Cost?

Whether you’re predisposed to a particular health condition or you’re looking to fill in gaps in your health insurance, a supplemental insurance policy can offer peace of mind for your family. Before you invest in a policy, look at your current coverage to be sure you aren’t doubling up on protections when you purchase your supplemental insurance. Researching your current policy and coverage you’re considering buying will help you get the most out of each of your insurances.  

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it worth getting supplemental insurance?


Supplemental insurance is a type of add-on coverage, which means it can fill in some of the holes left by your standard health insurance policy. Before you decide whether you should purchase supplemental health insurance, look at your current health insurance policy and what it doesn’t cover. For example, if you purchase health insurance through your employer, you may already have some form of dental insurance or vision coverage. However, if you purchase a Marketplace plan, you might be missing these coverages, and a supplemental insurance plan could be right for you.   


Can you have two health insurance plans?


Yes — it is completely legal to have more than one health insurance plan providing you with coverage at the same time. You might find yourself with multiple health insurance protections when both you and your spouse have health insurance through your employers or when you are employed and younger than 26, meaning that you have coverage from both your parents and your employer. When you have two policies, one will act as your primary coverage, taking care of your medical bills up to its limitations before the other policy (your secondary coverage) kicks in.