Young Adult Coverage

Under the Affordable Care Act, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.

What This Means for You

Before the health care law, insurance companies could remove enrolled children usually at age 19, sometimes older for full-time students. Now, most health plans that cover children must make coverage available to children up to age 26. By allowing children to stay on a parent's plan, the law makes it easier and more affordable for young adults to get health insurance coverage.

Your children can join or remain on your plan even if they are:

  • married
  • not living with you
  • attending school
  • not financially dependent on you
  • eligible to enroll in their employer’s plan

When Someone Turns 26

  • Under-26 coverage ends on a child’s 26th birthday.
  • When a child loses coverage on their 26th birthday, they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This lets them enroll in a health plan outside Open Enrollment.
  • They may qualify for tax credits and other savings based on their income.
  • They can enroll up to 60 days before their 26th birthday. Their Special Enrollment Period ends 60 days after their birthday.
  • If they enroll before their birthday, coverage can start as soon the first day of the month they lose coverage. If they enroll during the 60 days after their birthday, coverage can start the first day of the month after picking a plan.
  • If they don’t enroll in health coverage within 60 days of their birthday, they may not be able to get coverage until the next Open Enrollment period.
  • If they aren’t insured, they may have to pay the fee that some uninsured people pay. If they’re uncovered for less than 3 months of the calendar year, they don’t have to pay the fee.

If it’s 60 days before or after your 26th birthday, start your application now.

Some Important Details

  • Your plan is required to provide a 30-day period — no later than the first day of your plan’s next play or policy year that begins on or after September 23, 2010 — to allow you to enroll your adult child. Your plan must notify you of this enrollment opportunity in writing.
  • If you enroll your adult child during this 30-day enrollment period, your plan must cover your adult child from the first day of that plan year or policy year.

For More Information

Content last reviewed on July 28, 2014