Health insurance coverage for kids under 26
Per federal law, you can remain on your parents' health insurance until your 26th birthday in most states. There are no restrictions before then, so you're eligible for coverage under your parents' plan even if you're:
- Not in school
- A parent yourself
- Not living with your parents
- Financially independent/not claimed as a tax dependent
Can I stay on my parents' health insurance after I turn 26?
No, not in most states. There are a few states offering extensions beyond age 26 with certain limitations. For example, New Jersey allows kids to stay on a parents' policy until age 31 if the child is unmarried and has no dependents. Learn more about age exceptions to dependent coverage in your state and how the Affordable Care Act applies.
How long do I have to get health insurance after I turn 26?
If you were covered through your parents' employer and you're turning 26, your window to get a new health insurance plan in place without a gap in coverage typically lasts until the end of your birthday month. When you're switching health insurance plans, you can typically enroll at any time — no need to wait for an "open enrollment" period.
Learn more about how health insurance works.
If you're turning 26 soon, start researching plans in advance. A new health plan's coverage can take a couple weeks to a month to be activated, and you don't want a gap in coverage once your birthday comes.
Do I need health insurance if I'm young and healthy?
Health insurance is essential for all, no matter your age or well-being. Accidents and illnesses can happen without warning, and expenses from medical emergencies can quickly become overwhelming. Additionally, health plans may cover pregnancies, pre-existing conditions, lab work, rehab costs, mental health services, and more.
Can my parents kick me off their health insurance before I turn 26?
Yes, your parents can kick you off their health insurance. Once you turn 18, your health care bills are ultimately your responsibility, and so is having health insurance coverage. Getting your own policy through your employer or school may even be cheaper or offer better coverage than staying on a parents' policy until you age out. Plus, the further you live from your parents, it's more likely that your doctors will be out of network, so having your own health insurance can result in lower out-of-pocket costs.
How long can I stay on my parents' vision insurance?
Most states allow you to remain on your parents' vision plan until you turn 26. The vision insurance cut-off dates tend to follow that state's cut-off for health insurance, but there are exceptions.
How long can I stay on my parents' dental insurance?
In most states, you can stay on you parents' dental plan until you're 26, with some exceptions.
Common health insurance options for 26-year-olds
Coming off a parents' plan, you'll have several choices available for health insurance:
- Short-term health insurance: If you only need a health policy for up to 36 months, short-term health insurance can provide limited coverage while you wait to get a more permanent policy through an employer or elsewhere.
- Individual or family plan: Whether you only need coverage for yourself when you leave your parents' plan or you also need coverage for a spouse and/or kids, Progressive Health by eHealth makes searching for affordable health insurance simple.
- Employer-provided: Many companies offer health insurance for full-time employees and their families, and the premiums may be deducted directly from your paycheck.
- College/university provided: Your school may offer health insurance for full-time students. This can be the most affordable option, and sometimes there's no cost at all.
- Health exchanges: Individual and family plans are offered through government-regulated marketplaces. Depending on your income, you may qualify for a subsidy.
- Medicaid/CHIP: If your income is below the federal poverty level, these programs may be available through your state's health insurance marketplace. Visit CMS.gov for more information.
- COBRA: Often at a higher cost, COBRA plans allow you to stay insured under your parents' group coverage for up to 36 months.
If you're coming off your parents' health insurance, you may be coming off their car insurance, too, though the rules differ. Learn more about how long you can stay on your parents' car insurance policy and get a car insurance quote today.