The Top 6 for 26: How to Get Health Insurance After Your 26th Birthday

Being covered by your parent’s health insurance is quite convenient. Up until now, you’ve been able to see a doctor whenever you like. If you have a health issue, you’re not worried. Surgery? No problem. But you’re turning 26, and the days of you being medically covered by Mom and Dad are about to be over. What do you now? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at the top 6 things you can do to get your own health insurance after your 26th birthday.

Employer Health Insurance Coverage

If you are employed full time, you may have access to health insurance through your workplace. This is often a desirable route since employers typically pay a portion of premium costs. If your workplace health insurance coverage is not affordable, you might be able to shop the Health Insurance Marketplace and qualify for subsidies based on your income to find an affordable health insurance plan.

The Health Insurance Marketplace
If you do not have access to employer health insurance coverage, you may opt to shop the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges known as the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are not claimed as independents on your parents’ tax returns and have an income between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for premium tax credits. Also, since you are younger than 30, you can buy a catastrophic plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Catastrophic health insurance coverage means an individual pays a lower monthly premium and a higher deductible than he or she would with an individual major medical insurance plan. Benefits typically do not kick in until the deductible has been met. However, under the Affordable Care Act catastrophic plans include three primary care visits and certain preventive care benefits before the deductible has been met.

Non-exchange Health insurance Plans
If your financial position disqualifies you from receiving premium tax credits or other cost-sharing subsidies, or if you simply do not want to buy from Obamacare, you still have options. You may want to consider buying individual major medical insurance from the private marketplace.

These cheap health insurance plans must also fulfill the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for minimum essential coverage. That means they are categorized by actuarial metal levels, include the 10 categories of essential health benefits as well as certain preventive care benefits, and are subject to the same provisions as plans sold in the Health Insurance Marketplace. As with health insurance coverage sold through Obamacare exchanges, applicants cannot be denied or charged more based on health history. Plans sold away from the Health Insurance Marketplace may be purchased directly from health insurance carriers, through a health insurance agent or broker, or through a healthcare website

Student Health Insurance Plans
Some colleges and universities offer health insurance coverage to students. These plans can be attractive to young adults because they offer local provider networks. If you are still a student, check with your financial aid department to see if you may qualify. However, be aware that student health insurance plans do not qualify for premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies. You may also be able to get coverage through your parent’s family health insurance plan.


If you make less than a certain amount of money a year, you may qualify for medicaid. Medicaid provides low-cost or free health insurance for low-income individuals. In states where Medicaid has been expanded, adults younger than 65 who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible. For a single-person household, that is $15,800 per year. Medicaid eligibility can be determined when applying for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Temporary Health Insurance

Temporary health insurance, which is also known as short-term medical insurance is designed to be economical and help with medical bills incurred from unexpected accidents and illnesses. Covered expenses may include inpatient hospital care, outpatient hospital care, and outpatient emergency room visits, among others. Policies may be obtained for 30 to 364 days, depending on individual needs and state of residence.

Short-term medical insurance plans do not include essential health benefits, nor do they fulfill the requirement that most Americans have health insurance plans. Those who have it may owe a shared responsibility payment, or the tax penalty owed by individuals and families who are not granted a hardship exemption and go without major medical health insurance. Applicants may be denied or charged more based on health history. These plans may be a great temporary solution for you if you are just turning 26 and need a little more time to find the plan that is right for you.
Being thrown into the world of health coverage can be overwhelming. Rest assured, however, that there is a plan out there that will work for you. If you would like help in choosing a plan, or would like to speak with a health insurance broker, please contact us today.