Published on June 24, 2022

How to Get Your Own Health Insurance When You Turn 26

cupcakes with sparklers

It may seem like your big firsts are done by the time age 26 rolls around, but you still have one more milestone – getting your own health insurance.

No, it’s not exciting, but it is important. And if you were lucky enough to stay on a parent’s plan until now it’s something you need to take care of within certain timeframes.

“You may think as a healthy adult you don’t need insurance,” said Jordan Anderson, Vice President of Sales and Account Management at Avera Health Plans. “Health insurance will help shield you from the costs that can come with an injury. If you’re new to the workforce, have college debt and little savings that can be debilitating.”

What Happens at Age 26

Turning 26 is what’s known as a qualifying life event. If you’re already enrolled in your own health insurance plan then you must simply follow the requirements of the company’s yearly enrollment period.

If you are still enrolled in your parents’ plan, your coverage will usually end at the end of your birthday month or shortly after – check with the insurance company’s customer service. If your parents are enrolled in a healthcare.gov marketplace plan, your coverage may last until the end of the calendar year. Your parents will likely receive a letter that your coverage is ending and the date it ends.

Turning 26 is a special enrollment period but you only have a certain window to take action. It starts 60 days before you turn 26 and continues for 60 days after your birthday.

If you miss this period, you may be left without coverage. Your next chance to enroll in a health insurance plan would be during the yearly open enrollment period during the last several weeks of every year.

How Do I Enroll?

You have a few things to consider for coverage.

  1. Get insurance offered by your employer. In this case talk with your human resources department for enrollment guidelines and plan options.
  2. Get an individual or family plan through a health insurance provider like Avera Health Plans. An insurance agent can help you consider your options and compare plans.
  3. If you meet certain income requirements, you can apply for tax credits and other savings via healthcare.gov. When you do this, you will choose a marketplace plan that is offered through an insurance provider such as Avera Health Plans. You can get a plan via healthcare.gov even if you don’t qualify for tax credits.

Choosing an Insurance Plan

You’ll have access to a variety of plan options depending on where you live. Avera Health Plans offers traditional plans and high deductible health plans. You’ll want to consider your health risks, and care needs before choosing a plan that fits your budget.

  • High-deductible health plans have lower monthly premiums but a higher deductible to pay every year before coverage kicks in.
  • Traditional plans have higher monthly premiums but a lower deductible. This can be helpful if you have a chronic condition and know you’ll need care throughout the year.

You should also consider added benefits such as well-being technology, fitness center membership discounts and virtual visits. These can all save you money over time and help you stay healthy long-term.

Your Network

Within these plan options you can also choose the type of network you’d like. This is the group of doctors, hospitals and clinics you can choose from that are within your network coverage area. If you choose a provider outside your network you’ll have higher-out-of-pocket costs or no coverage at all.

Avera Health Plans offers narrow network options in limited counties. This can help you save on your monthly premium. (Emergency or urgent care needs while you’re traveling are always covered. Check with your plan for specific details.)

Ready to Compare Plans?

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