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Finding Health Insurance After Leaving the Nest at Age 26


As a young adult, you can remain on your parents’ health insurance plan until you reach the age of 26. At that point, it is time to find coverage on your own. Below are some guidelines to help you navigate the process.

When Coverage Stops Under Your Parent’s Health Insurance

How long you have coverage under your parent’s policy after you turn 26 will depend on the type of health plan and what state you live in.

Marketplace Plan

If a parent is covered under an Obamacare health insurance plan, you have until December 31 of the year you turn 26 to be covered under their plan. (Note: You will need to enroll in your own marketplace plan by December 15 to have coverage beginning the first of the following year.)

Employer-Sponsored Private Plan

If you have been covered under a parent’s employer-sponsored health plan, that coverage will end on the last day of the month you turn 26. If your birthday is on July 15, your coverage will end on July 31. In this case, you will need to plan in advance to avoid any gaps in coverage. 

Insurance Rider

In certain states, young adults can apply for health insurance riders to remain on their parents’ plans until they reach the age of 30. Those seven states are Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Most young adults in these states will qualify for the rider, provided they are unmarried, under the age of 29, and do not have access to health insurance through their employers. 

When You Can Enroll In Your Own Health Insurance Plan

You become eligible for a Special Enrollment Period when you age out of your parent’s health plan. This means, within 120 days (60 days before and 60 days after your parent’s plan drops you), you can enroll in your own health plan. You can also enroll during the standard Open Enrollment Period. You are not eligible for the Special Enrollment Period if your parents fail to pay their premiums or you voluntarily withdraw from the plan. 

Your Health Insurance Coverage Options After Age 26

After leaving the nest, you have the same health insurance options as other adults under the age of 65. These options include:

  • Employer-Sponsored Group Health Insurance: If your employer offers a group health insurance plan, this may be your best option.
  • Marketplace plan: If you are self-employed or cannot get health insurance through your employer, you can shop for an Obamacare plan through the federal Marketplace. Your state may also have a Marketplace website. Find out if you are eligible for cost or premium-sharing subsidies.
  • Private health insurance: Private health coverage is available outside the Marketplace. You can contact insurance companies for specific information about the plans they offer. 

Shopping for health insurance can be a bit daunting when you are doing it for the first time. Our friendly agent is available to help you decide on your best option and find a health insurance plan that suits your needs.

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