How long can I stay on my parent’s health insurance plan as a dependent? What happens when I lose that coverage?
You can continue to receive coverage through your parent’s health plan until your 26th birthday. This remains true regardless of whether you have access to health plans through work or school. Your parents do not have to claim you as a dependent on your tax return for you to remain on their plan, nor do you have to live in the same house or even the same state as they do (though keep in mind that it may be difficult to find participating providers for their plan’s network in another area). You can also remain on your parent’s plan if you are married, though their plan is not required to provide coverage for your spouse.
If you dropped your parent’s plan for a different one (such as a student health plan) but then lost that other coverage, you have the option to re-enroll in your parent’s plan so long as you are still under 26. This special enrollment opportunity will remain open for at least 30 days following the loss of your other coverage.
As of your 26th birthday, you will no longer be able to receive coverage through your parent’s plan. If your birthday falls within the open enrollment period, you can enroll in a plan through the exchange normally. Even if your birthday is not during open enrollment, you can still buy an exchange plan. Loss of your parent’s coverage will trigger a special enrollment period, which will last for 60 days after your old coverage expires and will allow you to purchase a plan through the exchange. Note that in states that use the HealthCare.gov website, you will be required to provide proof of your loss of coverage.
If your parent’s policy is a group plan offered by an employer with 20 or more employees, you can also opt to continue receiving that coverage through COBRA. Your old coverage can be extended this way for up to three years. While useful in some situations, this is one of the costlier options available, as you will not be eligible for subsidies and you also will not receive employer contributions towards the plan’s premiums. If you are interested in doing this, watch for a letter notifying you of the end of your coverage and the option to continue coverage through COBRA. You will have 60 days from the date on that letter to make your decision. Note that once you have elected to receive coverage through COBRA, you will not be able to switch to an exchange plan until open enrollment.
I’m still on my parent’s health insurance plan but am having a child of my own. Will their plan cover this?