When you consider milestone birthdays, you probably think about turning 16, 21 or 30. But your 26th birthday is also a big deal: That’s the age when you’re no longer covered by a parent’s health insurance plan and need to obtain your own coverage.
Health insurance can be confusing to get on your own for the first time, which is one reason why young adults make up nearly half of the country’s uninsured. However, ensuring you have comprehensive coverage is important for managing your health and finances at any age. In fact, a catastrophic event could impact your financial health for years to come. Maintain up-to-date coverage and your chances of illness also decline.
If you have insurance through a parent’s plan, your coverage will end during the month of your 26th birthday. It could be on your birthday, the last day of the month, or another date. To find out the exact day it ends, have a parent check with their employer’s benefits department. If you missed the 2017 open enrollment period (the time most people sign up for new plans), don’t worry. Certain life events, like turning the big “26,” make you eligible to get health insurance outside of open enrollment. You can sign up for a new plan during this special enrollment period, which starts 60 days before your 26th birthday and ends 60 days after it.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of applying or paying for this essential coverage. Here are a few of the paths available to you:
- Find a plan through the Marketplace: If you qualify, the government-backed Marketplace can offer lower monthly and out-of-pocket costs. Medicaid and CHIP coverage is another low-cost alternative offered to those who meet certain income requirements. To see if you qualify for free or reduced-cost coverage, check out this calculator.
- Go through your employer: Many employers offer health insurance as part of the company’s benefits package. Talk to someone in human resources or a manager to learn about coverage options and how to sign up.
- Consider catastrophic coverage: Catastrophic insurance is a viable option for young adults under 30 who meet certain qualifications. This plan is ideal for those with a smaller budget who do not qualify for a subsidy, but want to still make sure they have coverage should something major happen.
When it comes to your health, turning 26 doesn’t have to be a nerve-wrecking experience. Visit these other blogs to learn more about finding the right health plan in your 20s:
- Four Health Insurance Options for the Young and Healthy
- 3 Practical Reasons Why Young People Need Health Insurance
- What to do at 26 to Secure Your Own Health Insurance
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