Last updated on: 8/24/2010 | Author:

Can children up to age 26 remain on their parent’s health insurance?

PRO (yes)


US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in the page titled “Answers for Families and Small Businesses” on its website (accessed June 22, 2010), provided the following:

“The Affordable Care Act requires plans and issuers that offer dependent coverage to make the coverage available until a child reaches the age of 26. Both married and unmarried children qualify for this coverage. This rule applies to all plans in the individual market and to new employer plans. It also applies to existing employer plans unless the adult child has another offer of employer-based coverage (such as through his or her job).”

June 22, 2010


National Public Radio (NPR) provided the following in its May 26, 2010 article “What the Health Law Means to You” by Phil Galewitz, on

“If you’re an unmarried adult younger than 26, you can stay on your parent’s insurance coverage as long as you are not offered health coverage at work.

This benefit will begin Sept. 23 or in January 2011 for health plans that start at the beginning of the year. Many insurers, including Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, have decided to offer this benefit immediately, but many employers have deferred.”

May 26, 2010


The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), wrote in its May 2010 brief “Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About the Extension of Dependent Coverage to Age 26,” available on

“The health reform law will allow qualifying young adults whose parents have private group and non-group health coverage to remain on their parent’s insurance policy up to age 26. Recently issued regulations specify that a young adult can qualify for this coverage even if he or she is no longer living with a parent, is not a dependent on a parent’s tax return, or is no longer a student.

Both married and unmarried young adults can qualify for the dependent coverage extension, although that coverage does not extend to a young adult’s spouse or children. The law also states that young adults can only qualify for dependent coverage through group health plans that were in place prior to March 23, 2010 if they are not eligible for another employer-sponsored insurance plan. In other cases, a young adult can choose to remain insured through a parent’s dependent coverage even if the young adult is eligible for other employer-sponsored coverage.”

May 2010


The New York Times provided the following in its Prescriptions blog’s June 17, 2010 post “Will Premiums Be Higher for Adult Children?” by Michelle Andrews:

“The new health law allows adult children to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26. According to regulations issued by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, employers and insurers can’t charge more to cover an adult child who is over the policy’s current cutoff age for dependents than they charge for children under the current age limit. ‘It will be the same cost as if the adult child had remained on the policy and not gotten older,’ said Jennifer Tolbert, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But times have changed from the days when employers typically offered two flavors of coverage: individual or family. Today many employers charge for each additional person covered by the policy. If yours is one of them, you could be charged more to add your adult child back onto your health plan. The amount would have to be the same as would be charged to add any other person to the plan.

The new provision takes effect for new health plan years begun on or after Sept. 23. Although many insurers implemented the provision early so that children who graduated this spring didn’t lose coverage under their parents’ plan, employers aren’t necessarily following suit. Check with your employer to find out its plans.”

June 17, 2010

CON (no)


[Editor’s Note: We have been unable to find any cons to this question, and if you know of any, please let us know. Aug. 23, 2010]