Covering Children on Insurance Past the Age of 18

Covering Children on Insurance Past the Age of 18
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The health reform laws passed under the Obama administration allow children to remain on their parent's health insurance plans until the age of 26. This provision of the law became effective in September 2010.


Children up to the age of 26 can remain on a parent’s health insurance plan provided they do not have health coverage available through their own employer. This provision applies to all insurance plans, including fully insured and self-funded plans. If an adult child accepts a job with health benefits, the parent’s insurance plan is not required to continue coverage. However, if the adult child leaves that position before the age of 26, he can rejoin the parent’s plan. Adult children are not required to live in the parent’s home to be eligible for coverage.

Married Children

Parents can keep married children on their insurance plan until their 26th birthdays. This provision allows for the married child only and does not apply to the spouse or children of the insured child. Insurance companies are not required to cover married children under the age of 26 on a parent’s plan if the child is eligible for coverage under his spouse’s employer health plan.

Self-Employed Families

Self-employed families can keep their children under the age of 26 on their health plan purchased in the individual market. Parents can continue to deduct the family premium from their taxes.


COBRA insurance allows some people and their dependents to continue health coverage for a limited time through an employer's group health plan after termination of employment, or when an individual is no longer eligible for coverage through the employer's plan. COBRA continuation coverage is available for adult children who age out of their parent’s health plan. Adult children can stay on COBRA for up to three years. COBRA premiums are generally paid in full by the insured.