How long can I remain under my parents’ health insurance?

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What was once a luxury asset in the United States has become a mandatory benefit with the advent of the Affordable Care Act in 2012. Prior to such, you were fortunate to have health insurance coverage until you reached adult age at 18 years old. Few policies would allow dependents to stay on until they were 19 since many were still living at home and attending high school well into their 18th year. Depending on the policy your parents held, some individuals were able to stay on their parents plans as long as they were enrolled in college on a full time basis.

Along came the ACA and the landscape of health insurance plans as we knew them changed forever. The biggest change President Obama’s plan put into effect was that everyone would be able to attain health insurance coverage. Alongside that feat, there was a catch. Everyone was actually required to obtain coverage if they didn’t already have it through an employer or the private market. The penalty for going against this newly instated grain would be a hefty fine.

The ACA allows individuals to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until they reach the ripe old age of 26 years. Prior to the ACA enactment, adult children who were allowed to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan would be exempt if they got married. That steadfast rule has been given the boot. Today, children up to age 26 can get married and remain on Mom and Dad’s insurance plan. Whether they live at home or not doesn’t matter either. They aren’t required to be in college to do it either. In fact, adult children can stay on their parents’ plan even if they financially support themselves and are otherwise eligible for another insurance plan such as one offered by an employer. They do not have to be tax dependents in order to remain insurance dependents. Likewise, they can even have their own dependents; having children will not exempt them from staying on their own parents’ plan.

Adult dependents need not fret about what comes next when they reach the expiration date for coverage under Mom and Dad. They won’t simply be turned away when they reach their 26th birthday. Instead, they will then be eligible for a special enrollment period under the ACA where they can shop for and purchase a health insurance plan that meets their needs. Remaining on a parent’s policy until you reach 26 is mostly beneficial because the premium for coverage will be lower than a standalone policy would be for an 18- to 25-year old individual.


Cite this page: Danielle Bosley, "How long can I remain under my parents’ health insurance?," in, April 5, 2016, (accessed March 22, 2023).


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