Health Insurance When Your Child or Dependent Turns 26

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When your child turns 26, they enter an enrollment period during which they’ll need to sign up for their own insurance plan. Learn more about the process.

Young adults used to age off their parents' health plan when they turned 19 or graduated college. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they can now stay on their parents' health plan until they turn 26. 

As your young adult approaches the end of their coverage on your plan, they have some big decisions to make. With a bit of planning, they can smoothly transition to coverage that’s right for their needs. There are many health insurance plans for young adults over 26, including options we offer. 

Does insurance end when my child turns 26?

The date your child or dependent loses coverage depends on the type of plan you are on:

  • Employer-sponsored health insurance: Ask your benefits manager to confirm the precise date your young adult’s coverage ends. Often, your young adult’s coverage will end on the last day of their birth month if you are on a plan from work. For example, someone born in June likely will have coverage through June 30, regardless of their birth date. 
  • Small Group Qualified Health Plans (QHP) & Health Insurance Marketplace®: Your young adult receives extended coverage if insurance is through Vermont Health Connect, our state’s ACA insurance marketplace, or any QHP offered by a small employer. Coverage will not expire until the end of the calendar year they turn 26.

Special Enrollment Period

ACA also established policies that help young adults transition to their own insurance without gaps in coverage. Typically, an adult can only change plans during open enrollment. This period occurs once a year as determined by the plan sponsor, not an insured’s birthdate. 

When your young adult ages off your plan, they are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) during which they can purchase new coverage. The special enrollment period starts 60 days before the coverage expiration date and goes until 60 days after, for a total of 120 days.  

Shopping for Health Insurance  

As your child or dependent approaches their special enrollment period, it’s a good time to start shopping for health insurance. 

Young adults who do not have chronic health issues typically do not need comprehensive coverage and might avoid the higher premiums that come with it. There are many affordable plans with essential benefits such as:

  • Preventive care 
  • Emergency care
  • Hospital-based care
  • Lab tests
  • Primary care and specialist visits
  • Maternity and newborn services
  • Mental health and addiction services

Young adults with chronic health issues might opt for plans that provide more robust coverage, including easy access to specialists. Additional considerations include the frequency and type of services your child or dependent needs and the level of out-of-pocket costs they can afford. Learn more about how to choose a health insurance plan.

Our Health Insurance Options for Young Adults

We’re a proud participant in our state’s health insurance marketplace, Vermont Health Connect. The marketplace is where many individuals turn for affordable insurance. As the state’s only local, non-profit insurer, we offer basic and comprehensive individual insurance plans that you can count on. Our offerings make it easier to find a plan that fits your young adult’s needs and budget. 

Note that to be eligible for our plans, your young adult must reside in Vermont. Young adults who live outside Vermont can visit to learn more about options available in their state. 
Our plans include:

  • 24/7 telemedicine access from AmWell®
  • Access to Vermont’s largest doctor and hospital network
  • Award-winning, Vermont-based customer service
  • Zero-dollar office visits (limited number, on some plans)
  • Preventive services at no cost 
  • Access to pharmacy coverage with Vermont Blue RxSM

We offer three types of Qualified Health Plans. Some plans have a health savings account with tax advantages that lessen the financial impact of paying for health insurance. We also simplify your young adult’s search with a find-a-plan tool and plan comparison charts. 

Get more information about our health plans for individuals and families

More Options for Health Insurance for Young Adults over 26  

Most young adults qualify for insurance offered through the marketplace. But this might not be your child or dependent’s only option. 

Health insurance for young adults over 26 may be available through: 

  • Employers: If your child or dependent is employed and their employer offers health coverage, this might be the most affordable option. Employers typically cover a portion of the premium, which reduces their overall costs. 
  • College or university: Full-time students typically qualify for insurance through their school. However, coverage might be limited to an on-campus clinic and not include all essential benefits.  
  • Medicaid: Some individuals may qualify for no-cost or low-cost health insurance based on their household income. Read more about Vermont Medicaid Programs. 

Contact Us

To learn more about our health insurance plans for young adults over 26 or get help with enrollment, call us at (800) 255-4550 or email