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A Reader Asks: Can Our Plan Kick Off Our Daughter Because Her Job Offers Coverage?

Q. My 24-year-old daughter was covered under her father’s health insurance, which is a grandfathered plan. She started working and was offered coverage through her employer. My husband’s employer said she had to sign up for her employer’s insurance and could not stay on his policy. Is that true?

A. Not anymore. Under the health law, health plans that offer dependent coverage have to allow adult children to stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26 under most circumstances, even if the young adults are married or financially independent. The law initially allowed one major exception for grandfathered plans—those that were in existence before the health law passed in March 2010 and hadn’t changed substantially since then. Those plans could refuse to cover adult children if they had an offer of employer-based coverage elsewhere, such as through their own jobs.

However, starting last January, that exception no longer applies. A 24-year-old such as your daughter should be able to remain on her father’s plan until she turns 26, even if her own job also offers health insurance.

The original provision, which went into effect six months after the law passed, was likely intended to ease the transition to new coverage rules for employer group plans, says Sara Collins, vice president at the Commonwealth Fund.

According to an FAQ from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, that was indeed the case. “Our goal is to cover as many young adults under the age of 26 as possible with the least amount of burden,” the document says. 

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KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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