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Health Insurance Options for Young Adults

Your Parents’ Plan

In general, plans that cover families are less expensive per person than individual plans. For this reason, staying on your parents’ health insurance plan until you turn 26 may be the best option.

Under the Affordable Care Act, adult children can join or remain on their parents’ plan, even if you are:

  • Married
  • Not living with your parents
  • Attending school
  • Not financially dependent on your parents
  • Eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan

When you turn 26, you will automatically qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll in another health plan outside standard Open Enrollment.

Student Health Insurance Plan

While in college, you may be eligible to enroll in your school’s student health plan—if they offer one. These plans are inexpensive and can be a good option if your parents don’t have health insurance or if their plan isn’t as comprehensive as the school’s.

Employer’s Health Plan

Regardless of what your first job is outside of (or during) college, it’s worth looking into what coverage they offer and comparing it to your parent’s and school’s plans. Even if you decide not to sign up under your employer, sit down with your HR rep and have them explain their plan options and how they work for future reference. Having a good understanding of how different health insurance plans work will serve you throughout life.

Individual Health Insurance through Health Insurance Marketplace

The Health Insurance Marketplace at is a service, offered by the federal government, to help people shop for and enroll in affordable health insurance plans. Some states also offer their own Marketplaces. You can also receive Marketplace services over the phone and in person.

Medicaid Coverage

Medicaid is a state and federal program, offered through individual states, to low-income individuals and families who meet strict eligibility requirements. Eligibility varies from state to state.

Catastrophic Health Insurance Coverage

under 30 could be eligible for a catastrophic health insurance plan, designed to protect the insured in worst-case-scenario situations. For these plans, deductibles tend to run high (meaning you’ll pay for all medical care out of pocket until you’ve reached the designated amount), but they have lower monthly premiums.

However, catastrophic plans do cover some preventive health services before meeting the deductible, like three visits to a primary care physician (PCP) per year. It’s important to know that these preventative services do not apply toward meeting the deductible.

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