When it comes to health insurance, turning 26 is a milestone. That’s because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows young adults to stay on their parent’s coverage until age 26.
Turning 26 is what’s called a Qualifying Life Event. It means you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), allowing you to enroll in or make changes to your health insurance plan outside the annual Open Enrollment Period, the period of time in the fall when people can enroll in a health insurance plan for the next calendar year.
There are many situations where you may still be able to enroll in a Health Insurance Marketplace® plan outside of Open Enrollment, including:
- Turning 26 (aging out of your parent’s coverage)
- Losing existing health coverage, including job-based, individual or student health insurance plans
- Losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP
When you turn 26, your Special Enrollment Period starts 60 days before your birthday and ends 60 days after.
What you choose to do depends on your situation
If you have health insurance through your parents, and you are turning 26, you need to take action. If you don’t, you may wind up with no health coverage. Your choices depend on a number of factors:
- You may choose to enroll in your own employer-based health insurance plan, if your employer offers that option.
- You may choose to enroll in your own Health Insurance Marketplace® plan. Your options depend on whether your parent’s health insurance is employer-based or through the Marketplace.
- If you’re covered by your parent’s Marketplace plan, you can stay on your parent’s plan until coverage ends December 31, even if you turn 26 mid-year.
- If you’re covered by a parent’s employer-based plan, your coverage will usually end during or shortly after your 26th birthday month. Check with the plan or your parent’s employer for the exact date.
Find more details about getting your own health coverage when you turn 26 here. To see if you qualify, and to find out if you can enroll in a Marketplace plan for 2022, visit Healthcare.gov, then:
- Create an account or log into an existing account to apply and enroll.
- Preview plans and prices based on your income.
We’re here for you.
Deciding which plan is best for you can be a big decision. We’re here to help you navigate by clearly explaining the coverage in terms you can understand. View plans at BCBSKS.com/cares or call us at 866-679-7824.