29 Jun 2020

How to Enroll for Your First Health Coverage When Turning 26?

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How to Enroll for Your First Health Coverage When Turning 26?

Enroll in Your Own Job-Based Plan

If your employer currently provides health insurance for its workers, the easiest way to receive coverage immediately is to sign up for that plan. However, if you have a pre-existing condition, or take medication regularly, be sure to read the fine print to fully grasp what’s covered in the plan and what is not. Even if you don’t have pre-existing conditions, it’s good practice to know what you’re signing up for! 

Speak with your human resources representative before your 26th birthday to learn the next steps. It’s important to note that if you do not enroll with your employer’s insurance, you will not qualify for a premium tax credit and other savings based on your income to buy a Marketplace plan. You will likely pay the full price. 

Enroll in your Own Marketplace Insurance Plan

If you choose to enroll in your own marketplace insurance plan, your options vary. It depends on whether the plan you’re currently on through your parents is either through the Health Insurance Marketplace or their job. 

What to Do If You’re Covered Under Your Parent’s Health Insurance Marketplace Plan

If your parent’s coverage is a health insurance marketplace plan, good news, you can still receive coverage and benefits until December 31st, even if you turn 26 mid-year! 

  • If you’re no longer your parent’s tax dependent when coverage ends: Enroll in a Marketplace plan for the next year during Open Enrollment. You’ll most likely be eligible for savings if your income qualifies and if your job does not offer healthcare coverage. Most people who apply qualify for either a subsidized Marketplace health insurance plan or Medicaid coverage.
  • If you are a tax dependent when coverage ends: You can enroll in your Marketplace plan during Open Enrollment, but will not be eligible for any subsidies. You may, however, qualify for Medicaid.

What to Do If You Are Covered by Parent’s Job-Based Plan

If you’re currently receiving coverage from your parent’s employer, you will no longer have health insurance after your 26th birthday. Have your parents check with their Human Resources specialist for the specific date your coverage ends. In this case, you will qualify for a special enrollment period to buy health insurance. 

  • If you enroll before you lose coverage: Your new Marketplace plan can start as soon as the first day of the month after you lose coverage.
  • If you enroll after you lose coverage: Your new Marketplace plan can start the first day of the month after you pick a plan.

When Does My Special Enrollment Period Start?

Your special enrollment period starts 60 days before your coverage ends and ends 60 days after. To learn more about special enrollment and how you enroll in health insurance at 26, read what to do if you missed the open enrollment period.