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What Young Adults Need to Know About Health Insurance Enrollment

Are you under 26 years of age but don’t have health insurance? Have you considered enrolling on your parents’ health insurance plan? The Affordable Care Act gives you that option if your parents’ plan covers dependents!

Here are the options:

  • Your name can be added as a dependent on your parent’s employer-based health plan during Open Enrollment or during the Special Enrollment Period
  • You can also be added to your parent’s Marketplace plan during Open Enrollment or the Special Enrollment Period

Till you turn 26, you can remain on your parent’s plan even if you:

  • Get married
  • Have or adopt a child
  • Start or leave school
  • Live in or out of your parent’s home
  • Aren’t claimed as a tax dependent
  • Turn down an offer of job-based coverage

The year you turn 26, the employer-based plan may stop your coverage, but it’s best to confirm with the plan. If you are on a Marketplace plan, you will remain eligible for coverage till the end of that year.

I am 26…What Now?

Here are your health insurance options once you turn 26:

  • Employer: You could receive tax credits if you enroll through your employer-based plan. If you are rolling off of your parent’s plan, you can enroll outside of the Open Enrollment Period. Before your 26th birthday, reach out to your Human Resources department to find out more.
  • Marketplace: If you were on your parent’s Marketplace Plan, you are assured of coverage till December 31st of the year you turn 26. If you don’t have health coverage you can independently enroll on a Marketplace plan for the next year during Open Enrollment and:
    • Qualify for savings if you are not a tax dependent and your employer does not offer insurance coverage
      • If you are a tax dependent when coverage ends, you have to buy insurance at market price
  • If you were on your parent’s job-based plan, you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period—60 days before and 60-days after your 26th birthday—to buy health insurance

DIFFERENT State, Different RuleS

If you are a young adult getting health insurance for the first time or if you are moving states and are being rolled off of your parent’s private health plan, review the health insurance rules in your state of residence. New Jersey, for example, allows children up to the age of 31 years to continue coverage or get covered as an over-age adult under their parent’s group health plan. It could even serve as an alternative to:

  • Purchasing coverage in the individual marketplace
  • Continuation of coverage option under COBRA—a federal law that requires group health plans to temporarily provide continued coverage that would otherwise be terminated

In New York state, coverage expansion allows eligible young adults up to the age of 29 years to stay on their parent’s group health plan. Pennsylvania allows young adults to stay on a parent’s health insurance plan till 29 years if it is provided by a PA-based employer. 

NOTE: if you want to find out what your State’s position on this, search

“coverage for 26 and over + [your State]”

Important Dates

Open Enrollment for 2023: November 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023

Your coverage can start January 1, 2023, if you enroll by December 15, 2022

Here are some helpful resources:

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, Ph.D. is a biologist with academic research experience, who brings her skills and knowledge to the health care communications world. She provides writing and strategic support to non-profit groups via her consultancy, SDG AdvoHealth, LLC

Surabhi Dangi Garamella

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