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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a provision that allows you to stay on your parent's health insurance plan until you reach the age of 26, provided the plan covers dependents. This provision is a great option for those still in school or not yet employed.

Once you turn 26, your health insurance options change. You can no longer stay on your parent’s health insurance policy in most states.

There are a few different health insurance options available for 26-year-olds, including employer-based health plans or individual plans from the insurance marketplace.

Keep reading to learn more about the various health insurance options available after you turn 26.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • You can stay on your parent’s health insurance plan up to 26 years of age - even if you are married, have a child, or have access to an employer health plan.
  • There are states with exceptions on the age limit for dependents, including New York, Georgia, New Jersey, and Florida, up to age 31 or any age with a disability.
  • Once you are 26, you can choose from an employer-sponsored plan, spouse’s health plan, or an individual health plan.

How long can you stay on your parent’s health insurance?

You can stay on your parent’s health insurance plan until age 26 in most states. In a handful of states, you can stay on your parent’s coverage for longer, until you turn 30 or 31.

How long you can keep coverage also depends on your parent's health insurance plan. If their insurance plan is through an employer, you can stay on their policy until the end of your birthday month. If your parents have a marketplace plan, you can keep your coverage until December 31st of the year you turn 26.

What are the exceptions to staying on your parent’s health plan under 26 years of age?

You can join or stay on your parent’s health plan if you are under 26 years of age, even if you:

  • Are married
  • Have a child
  • Have finished school
  • Live in a different house
  • Are not tax dependent
  • Have been offered employer-sponsored health coverage

Which states allow an eligibility extension to stay on your parent's health insurance?

The state you live in will determine if you can stay on your parent's health insurance past 26 years old. Several states allow eligibility extensions or have no age limit if you meet specific criteria. The states with exceptions are listed below:

StateDependent age limit extension
FloridaUp to 29 years of age for those who are unmarried, have no dependents, and are residents of the state who are enrolled as part-time or full-time students
GeorgiaNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
IdahoNo age limit for married people with a disability
IlinoisUp to 29 years of age for unmarried people, no age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
IndianaNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
MassachusettsNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
MinnesotaNo age limit for differently-abled people
MissouriNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
NevadaNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
New JerseyUp to 30 years of age for those who are unmarried, no dependents, and are residents of the state who are enrolled as part-time or full-time students
New YorkUp to 29 years of age for those who are unmarried, residents of or workers in the state
OhioNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
OregonNo age limit for differently-abled people
PennsylvaniaUp to 29 years of age for those who are unmarried, have no dependents, and are residents of the state who are enrolled as part-time or full-time students
Rhode IslandNo age limit for differently-abled people
South CarolinaNo age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
South DakotaUp to 29 years of age for full time students. No age limit for differently-abled people incapable of self-support
WisconsinNo age limit for full-time students who are national guards, or somebody who is frequently called on duty, or differently-abled people incapable of self-support

What are the health insurance options after 26?

Once you turn 26, there are several health insurance options available for you. They include

  • Employer-sponsored health insurance - If your employer offers a health plan, it’s likely the easiest and cheapest way to get health insurance. Your employer will usually subsidize the premiums; however, you are restricted to the plans that the employer offers.
  • Spouse’s health plan - If you are married, you can be covered under your spouse’s healthcare plan.
  • COBRA - Turning 26 is a COBRA- eligible event. If your parent’s employer sponsors 20 or more employees on their plans, you may be eligible for 36-month temporary health coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). However, you will have to inform your parent’s insurer in writing 60 days before you turn 26, and it will be very expensive.
  • Individual health plans - ACA marketplace plans are a good option if you need to buy your own coverage. Marketplace plans are categorized into four groups based on their premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
Plan categoryHow much insurance company paysHow much you pay
Bronze60%40%
Silver70%30%
Gold80%20%
Platinum90%10%

FAQs

Can I stay on my parent’s health plan if I pay my taxes independently?

Yes, you can stay on your parent’s health plan even if you are paying taxes independently as long as you are 26 years old (or the age limit as per your state). How long you can stay on your parent’s health plan depends solely on your age and not your tax-paying status.

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