How Long Can a Child Stay on Parent's Health Insurance?

••• nortonrsx/iStock/GettyImages

Related Articles

According to the Affordable Care Act, children can stay on their parents' health insurance policies until the age of 26. Once dependents turn 26, they have a grace period of some months before having to find an insurance policy of their own.

Health care costs are constantly rising, and one of the best ways to control your personal health care expenses is by having good insurance coverage. Children have traditionally been covered under their parents' policies, but this coverage will eventually end. The cutoff age used to be 19, or when the dependent graduated from college, but the Affordable Care Act extended the allowable coverage period until a dependent is 26 years old.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The cutoff date for staying on a parent's health insurance plan is 26 years of age.

Can a Child Stay on Her Parents' Health Insurance if She Moves Out?

Moving away from home is a rite of passage for all young adults, one which signals a long list of changes in lifestyle and finances. If the person is under the age of 26, her health insurance coverage doesn't have to be one of those things that have to change. Under the Affordable Care Act, dependents can stay on their parents' health care policy, whether they live at home or move to their own residence.

Can a Child Stay on Her Parents' Health Insurance if She Gets Married?

Nothing signals a change in the direction of life like a wedding. Getting married is traditionally a move that changes one family by creating a new one. Newlyweds will want to look at their new spouse's coverage to find out about getting put on the policy. If the new wife is under 26, that isn't an urgent priority right away, as she will still be covered under her parents' policy until her 26th birthday. The change in legal status from single to married makes no difference in health coverage in the eyes of the Affordable Care Act.

Options for Insurance Coverage After Someone Turns 26

When someone is covered by his parents' health insurance policy, the cutoff date for coverage depends on how the parents acquired the insurance in the first place. If your parents got their insurance through their employer, coverage usually ends sometime within a month of your turning 26. However, if your parents got their insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, the coverage will continue until December 31 of the year you turn 26.

Turning 26 is one of the life events that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period for insurance. The enrollment period will extend from 60 days before you lose your coverage to 60 days afterward. This ensures that no one goes months without insurance while waiting for the next Open Enrollment Period.

If you're going to lose your insurance and need to find a policy of your own, you have a wide variety of options.

  • Your employer may offer health insurance as part of a benefits package.
  • If you're in college, check with administration. Many colleges and universities offer health care policies for their students.
  • If you are low income, you may qualify for Medicaid through the federal government.
  • You may find many viable options through the Health Care Marketplace.

The most important thing to remember is to begin searching for health care options before your 26th birthday, to make sure you know what plan you want to join once the day arrives. Arrange your coverage before your parents' policy drops you to make sure you don't have any time without some type of health insurance coverage.

References

About the Author

Victoria Bailey has a degree in Public Law and Government. She has spoken before state Supreme Court justices and her photograph is on the back cover of Bill Clinton's autobiography. As a former member of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Bailey worked closely with lawmakers to help set public policy. Bailey's work appears on numerous websites, and she's currently writing the text for a governmental information app.