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I’m 24. How do I choose between coverage from my father’s plan and an exchange plan?


Q: I am 24 and could sign up for insurance through my father’s employer. Or I could buy my own insurance in the exchange. What are the pros and cons?

A. First, compare the costs:

  • Depending on how your father’s employer structures benefits, and whether there are other family members covered on the plan, there may or may not be an additional premium taken out of your father’s paycheck if he adds you to his plan.
  • If you shop in the exchange, your eligibility for subsidies is based on household income. If your father claims you as a dependent on his tax return, his income (and the rest of his household’s income) would be counted in determining whether you’re eligible for subsidies in the exchange. But if you file your own taxes, your household income would be based on the income on your own return.
  • Be sure to compare the non-premium costs of the various options too. Consider the deductible, copays, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximum on the plan through your father’s employer, and how it compares with the options you could get on your own.

Then find out the details of the provider network for your father’s plan. Can you go out of network? How much more would it cost? If your father’s plan is limited to local medical providers and you live far away, that might be a reason to get your own plan instead.

If you’re married, your father’s plan does not have to cover your spouse. You can remain on your father’s plan until you turn 26 — even if you’re married — but your spouse would have to get a separate policy.

Finally, keep in mind that if you become pregnant, your father’s plan may not cover maternity care for you. His plan is almost certainly required to cover maternity for employees and spouses, but that provision does not apply to employees’ children. Prenatal care is covered for dependents, but the cost of the labor and delivery could be out-of-pocket. If you get your own plan, it will cover maternity.

Related terms

health insurance exchange

health insurance marketplace

  • Under the ACA, children up to age 26 may get coverage from their parents’ health plans.