Employee Benefits

Can You Stay on Your Parents' Insurance After Age 26?

4 min read
Nov 04, 2023

Having coverage under your parents’ health insurance plan can make it financially easier to transition into adulthood. But how long can you be covered by your parents' insurance? According to HealthCare.gov, dependents can typically stay on a parents’ insurance plan until they turn 26.1 We’ll go over exceptions to this rule, what to consider as you approach age 26 and different insurance options.

How long can you stay on your parents' insurance?

If your parents' have you as a dependent on their insurance plan, you’ll most likely lose eligibility at some point. That typically occurs when you turn 26 years old.

If your parents have insurance through their employer, you may lose coverage on your birthday or at the end of that month. If your parents have coverage through a Health Insurance Marketplace® plan, you may lose coverage at the end of the year you turn 26.1 However, there are some exceptions that may allow a dependent to continue coverage after age 26.

Dependent coverage exceptions

Many states have adopted their own requirements regarding dependent coverage and often take into consideration special circumstances for continued coverage on parents’ insurance policy. These circumstances include starting or leaving school, having or adopting a child, getting married, living with your parents or on your own, declining group insurance through an employer or not being claimed as a dependent on taxes.1

In addition, several states may allow you to stay on your parents’ insurance until you’re around 30 years old.2 However, there can be certain requirements — like being unmarried, a veteran or living with your parents. Additionally, disabled dependents may be able to stay covered by their parents’ health insurance plan indefinitely.2

Since requirements vary by state, check with your parents’ insurance provider and state laws for specific coverage details.

What happens when you turn 26?

Coverage through your parents' plan typically ends when you turn 26, so it’s a good idea to sit down and figure out your options before then. One of the first things you may want to do is decide whether you want to purchase coverage on your own or through an employer.

To help you transition, you may be able to apply for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health insurance to extend your current coverage until you can get your own policy.3

If you want to enroll with a group insurance plan through an employer, the good news is that losing coverage on your 26th birthday is considered a qualifying life event (QLE). This means, you qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP) and can enroll right away — you don’t have to wait for open enrollment.

Types of health insurance plans available and where to get them

If you purchase an insurance plan on your own, you can get one through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace, Medicaid for eligible individuals,4 or directly through an insurance provider. You may be able to get short-term health insurance, through an insurance company, until you find a more permanent plan. You can also enroll in a plan through your employer. When purchasing insurance through your employer, your monthly premium is typically much lower than plans you purchase on your own.

Here are some common types of health insurance plans available:

Review other coverage options

Depending on your lifestyle or circumstances, enrolling in other types of insurance plans can help supplement health insurance coverage or cover other parts of your life. When looking at employee benefits, it’s a good idea to also check for other types of insurance that may be offered, such as:

Tips for choosing the right insurance coverage

The bottom line is that there’s no single way to choose the best insurance coverage for you. Look at all the plans available to you, consider the level of coverage you need, know your budget and the costs associated with each plan — such as premiums, deductibles, and copays — and see what other kinds of insurance you may benefit from.

Time To Enroll in a New Insurance Plan?

Explore MetLife Benefits

1 “How to get or stay on a parent’s plan,” HealthCare.gov

2 Masterson, L., September 2023, “How Long Can You Stay On Your Parent’s Health Insurance?” Forbes Advisor

3 “Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA),” U.S. Department of Labor

4 “Medicaid Eligibility,” Medicaid.gov

5 “Point of Service (POS) Plans,” HealthCare.gov



This article is intended to provide general information about insurance. It does not describe any MetLife product or feature.