Who Can Be Added as a Dependent on My Health Insurance Plan?

Individual and Family

Who Can Be Added as a Dependent on My Health Insurance Plan?

Updated on November 06, 2019


When you purchase a health insurance plan for yourself, you can get coverage that extends to your dependents; likewise, if you’re an employer covering your workers, you can provide coverage for any dependents they have. If you’re planning on purchasing a family health insurance plan to cover your dependents, it’s important to make sure you know they’re eligible to join your family health insurance plan before you make your final purchase.

Dependents for taxes & health insurance

According to healthcare.gov, if you can count someone as a dependent on your taxes, they’re also a dependent on your health insurance plan. What’s more, you are required to provide health insurance for anyone whom you claim as a tax dependent. So if you intend to include a child or other relative as a tax dependent, you should also make sure they’re included in your health insurance plan.

Your children are your dependents

If you have children, they’re probably the first people that come to mind when talking about dependents. Generally speaking, you can include any child who fits the following criteria:

  • Age– Your child has to be under the age of 26.
  • Relationship to You– For a child to qualify as your dependent, they need to be your biological child, your stepchild, your adopted child, or a foster child you are taking care of. If they have any sisters, brothers, half sisters, half brothers, or children of their own, you can also include them on your health insurance plan.
  • Length of Residency– A child only qualifies as your dependent if they have lived with you for at least six months.
  • Income Contribution– Although someone can be your dependent while working and contributing to their expenses, they cannot be their own primary source of support. This means a child’s income must be less than half of the cost of their support expenses for them to qualify as your dependent.
  • Tax Filing– A child cannot be your dependent if they file a joint tax return that year.
  • Other Claims– A child cannot be claimed as a dependent by more than one household. Thus regardless of your relationship to the child, if someone else claims them as a dependent, you cannot.

Besides keeping track of what’s required to claim your child as a dependent, you should also remember what isn’t. Your child does not have to be living with you at the time you enroll them in your health insurance plan, provided they’ve lived with you long enough to meet the residency requirement. It also doesn’t matter whether they’re married, or whether they have a job and are eligible to enroll in that employer’s health insurance plan. As long as they meet these other requirements, you can usually still include them in your coverage.

Adding your spouse as a dependent

In most cases, adding a spouse to your health insurance plan is acceptable. After getting married, you usually have up to 60 days to enroll in a new plan, or add your spouse as a dependent.
Keep in mind that if you or your spouse have access to employer-sponsored health insurance, but choose to buy your own family plan on a health insurance exchange, you likely will not qualify for Obamacare subsidies. To learn more about how health insurance works with marriage, keep reading here.

Additional Dependents

Besides your child and spouse, you can include other relatives as dependents under certain conditions, namely:

  • If no one else has named them as a dependent
  • If their gross annual income is less than $3,000
  • If you are responsible for providing more than half of the financial support they rely on

In addition to relatives, you can include others who have lived in your house for at least a year, provided they meet all of the aforementioned criteria.

Coverage Considerations

Once you have named someone as your dependent, they will generally have access to the same plan or set of plans that you use. Depending on where you get your health insurance, they may also be able to choose among plans that you rely on. If you claim someone as a dependent, they will be able to enroll in either the health insurance plan or the dental plan, or they can enroll in both, according to the Small Business Administration.
eHealth is committed to helping you understand all the nuances of health coverage. For more information, visit eHealth.com, where you can tap into our information on health insurance or start looking at family health insurance plans.
This article is for general information only, and may not be updated after publication.

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