Do you need to buy health insurance even if your employer provides it?

A financial adviser suggested that I consider buying medical insurance for my wife, even though she is covered through my employer-provided policy (and has no coverage of her own). The reasoning is that since I am 11 years older than my wife, I am likely to retire well before she is eligible for Medicare coverage. If before I retire she were to develop some condition under which she would become uninsurable, we would not be able to buy coverage for her unless she was already on an existing policy. Therefore it would be prudent to get her on a policy now so she’s sure to have coverage when I retire.

This does seem to make sense. But then it would seem to apply to everyone. If you develop a condition that makes you otherwise uninsurable and can no longer work, you would no longer have employer-provided medical insurance and couldn’t then buy alternate coverage. Even if you had long-term disability insurance, that only covers replacement of income. You would also need a medical policy, which you couldn’t buy unless you already had one.

So, should people buy additional medical coverage now to insure their own insurability later?

Rather than “additional” coverage, he/she might have meant to have your spouse dropped off of your employer coverage so that you’re only paying for employee only coverage (rather than employee spouse). Assuming your wife is able to secure her own policy that is.

Are you close to retirement? That could play a factor in what I would decide.

Would your retirement package include health insurance? I know that at my job you can stay on after retirement (as long as you’re not fired or anything) and so can your spouse. It is the same for disability coverage too. But maybe not all jobs have this.

You might look into the COBRA regulations. I know it provides a means for you to keep your insurance coverage (at cost to you) after you leave your employer. Don’t know about family members though. Other dopers might keep this in mind, as it can also be used to provide “bridge” coverage for the 1-3 months a new health plan can take to kick in when you change jobs.