Can I Be a Non-Dependent and Still Remain on My Parents' Health Insurance?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

If you've recently moved out of your parents' house but haven't secured a health insurance policy of your own, you're probably nervous about your financial future. After all, health insurance coverage can be ruinously expensive. If you don't have a solid policy through your employer, school or union, you may have to obtain a single-coverage policy that costs several hundred dollars per month. Alternatively, you might need to take the risky step of going without insurance coverage at all. While you might be comfortable with the idea of going without insurance coverage during periods of good health, you could be setting yourself up for a ruinous barrage of hospital bills in the event of a life-changing injury or illness.

Fortunately, recent changes to the rules and regulations that govern the American healthcare system have opened new doors for newly-independent young people. In the past, individuals who could no longer be claimed as dependents on their parents' tax returns had no choice but to procure their own health insurance. Most insurance companies simply refused to permit such individuals to remain attached to their parents' insurance policies. The few providers that did make such allowances would often charge exorbitant rates on joint policies. As such, millions of young people would go without health insurance coverage for years on end.

Passed in 2009, the Affordable Care Act has dramatically changed this uneasy arrangement. Insurance companies are no longer permitted to drop independent children from their parents' insurance policies. Instead, providers are required to keep both dependent and independent children on their parents' insurance policies for the first 25 years of their lives. Of course, children can opt out of this coverage requirement after procuring an employer-sponsored coverage plan. Likewise, parents can refuse to insure their own children for personal reasons. However, insurers can no longer refuse to join willing parents and children under the same insurance policy.

If you're seeking affordable health insurance coverage, you may be able to secure a better deal through your parents' employer-sponsored plan. Since your parents have probably been working for several decades, they're likely to have earned solid employee-benefit packages. In some cases, the employer that sponsors the plan to which you're attached may cover the entire cost of your insurance coverage. In other cases, you may be required to pay just a fraction of the value of your policy. In all cases, you'll be able to count on health insurance coverage until your 26th birthday.

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