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Before looking for ways secondary health insurance can help protect your finances, it’s important to understand insurance terms. Sometimes people use the terms “secondary insurance” and “supplemental insurance” interchangeably. Both types of insurance offer additional coverage; however, they work in very different ways. Make sure you know what type of plan you’re looking for.

What Is Secondary Health Insurance?

Secondary insurance is a type of coverage you can buy separately from a health insurance plan. The primary insurance plan will pay first, and the secondary insurance may cover the remainder of the cost.1

There are several situations where you can have the benefits of two health insurance plans at the same time. Examples of these situations may include:

  • Seniors who have a Medicare plan and an employer plan,1 or
  • Adult children under age 26 who are on both a parent’s plan and their own employer plan.2

How Does Secondary Insurance Work?

When you have secondary health insurance, a “coordination of benefits” provision determines which insurance will be the primary and which will be secondary for each claim.With Medicare, coordination of benefits determination depends on many factors, including your employer, type of secondary coverage, and disability status.1

What Is Supplemental Insurance?

Supplemental insurance products can cover nonmedical expenses such as childcare, lost income, or travel that might arise during a serious illness or accident. It helps provide financial protection for costs not covered by your health insurance policy. It is not meant to replace your health insurance policy or serve as a secondary backup. However, it is meant to serve as an additional layer of protection against the costs of unexpected medical events such as a heart attack, cancer, or an accident.3

How Does Supplemental Insurance Work?

Supplemental insurance often works through a cash payment made directly to you, the beneficiary. These benefits can then be used for whatever expenses you’d like.

To receive benefits, you’ll file a claim with your supplemental insurance provider after your diagnosis, hospital stay, or accident. After your claim is accepted, you’ll receive a payment amount that’s determined by the policy you’ve chosen.

Types of Supplemental Insurance Plans

Supplemental plans come in all different shapes and sizes. There are plans that cover:

  • Accidents
  • Cancer & critical illness
  • Disability
  • Hospital confinement 
  • Long-term care

Below, we take a more in-depth look at some of these insurance options and explore how this coverage could be valuable to you. 

Accident Plans

Accident plans help when sudden, unexpected, unbudgeted events occur. Did you know that in 2019 an estimated 4.4 million people were injured in automobile accidents?Something as simple as a trip or fall can lead to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in medical expenses. For example, a broken leg can cost up to $7,500.If you or your children lead an active lifestyle or play sports, it may be wise to consider some form of accident insurance. 

Cancer and Critical Illness Insurance

Family with secondary health insurance playing soccer

No one wants to think about developing a serious disease or condition. The purchase of a critical illness insurance plan can help offset medical bills or other out-of-pocket costs that can come with illness such as uncovered tests, prescriptions, treatments, travel, and bills from non-network specialists.

Some of the critical illnesses that can be covered by these types of supplemental plans include heart attacks, life-threatening cancer, stroke, major organ transplants, coma, and renal failure.

Disability Plans

If you are unable to work due to a disability or accident that happened on or off the job, a disability plan will pay a monthly cash benefit direct to you to help offset your loss of income. This payment can be received even if you also collect Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Hospital Confinement Plans

Hospital confinement plans pay you a cash benefit when you’re in the hospital to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, prescriptions, and other costs not covered by your health insurance. There are no networks, no deductibles, and you can spend your benefit however you like.

Long-Term Care Plans

Except for a few medical exceptions, Medicare doesn’t cover the costs of assisted living or nursing home facilities.6 And with the average cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home averaging $6,844 per month,long-term care plans  can help protect your finances. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 70% of people who are 65 years old today will need some type of long-term care in their remaining years.7 Receiving cash benefits could help insulate against having to exhaust personal savings. 

How to Buy Supplemental Insurance Through HealthMarkets

Since you know the ways secondary insurance and supplemental plans can help protect your finances, review plans, choose your options, and apply today with HealthMarkets. Whether you’re looking for you or your entire family, you can find a supplemental plan that fits your budget and lifestyle. Compare plans and apply for a supplemental insurance plan.


1. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved from Accessed February 5, 2021. 

2. The Balance. May 29, 2020. Retrieved from 
3. AHIP. 2021. Retrieved from 
4. The National Safety Council. 2021. Retrieved from 
5. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved from Accessed February 8, 2021. 
6. U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Retrieved from Accessed February 8, 2021. 
7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. October 15, 2020. Retrieved from 

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