Of all the milestone birthdays in life, you may not think much about turning 26 … but you should. At age 26, you will more than likely need to go off your parents’ health insurance plan. Turning 26 is a qualifying life event that impacts your eligibility to enroll in a health plan.

What is a qualifying life event?

A qualifying life event is an event you experience that allows you, or a dependent, to enroll in a health plan, or make changes to your health plan, without having to wait for the annual open enrollment period to get coverage. You will need to enroll or make changes within a certain timeframe of turning 26. This time window is called a special enrollment period.

When will coverage end?

If your parents have private health insurance through their employer, that employer decides when your coverage ends. For example, it could be the last day of your birth month or at the end of the year that you turn 26. Ask your parents to check with their HR department to determine the exact date.

If you are covered by your parents’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan, your coverage will end on the last day of the calendar year and you have until the end of that year’s open enrollment period to buy your own coverage. Most likely, your coverage will end between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15.

Which type of plan is best?

There are several options to choose from:

  • If you have a job that offers health insurance, check with your HR department to find out how and when you can enroll.
  • If you are a student in college, graduate school or professional school, your institution may offer a student health plan. Check with your school’s admissions office or health services office to find out if you are eligible.
  • You can enroll in coverage through HealthCare.gov, the federally facilitated exchange that Nebraska uses. These plans are considered traditional ACA plans.
  • You can apply for an alternative to traditional ACA plans, such as an Armor Health plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. Learn more.

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