Whether you purchase health insurance as a benefit through your place of employment, you elect to pay for private coverage, or you use the government marketplace to remain in compliance with laws requiring every citizen to be insured, you can save some money by adding a spouse, partner, and/or dependent children to your policy rather than purchasing them plans of their own. Of course, this all depends on the options offered by the policy. But how far do such options extend? Can you also add your parents to your existing policy? And can you find policies that allow for such coverage? Here are a few things you need to know if you’re trying to cover your parents through your health insurance plan.
First, you need to determine whether your parents qualify as dependents. In many cases, insurance coverage allows you to add any number of dependents to your policy at an additional cost that is far less than purchasing several individual policies. For the most part, dependents are considered to be minor children (or in the case of new Obamacare rules, children up to the age of 26). However, parents that are living with you while you provide care and see to their financial needs may qualify as dependents. Even if you can list your parents on your taxes as dependents, though, it doesn’t mean that you can add them to your insurance as such.
In this case, eligibility for health coverage may hinge on the age of your parents. If they are over the age of 65, they already qualify for Medicare benefits. For this reason, most insurance providers will not let you add them as dependents. In terms of health coverage, they are considered dependents of the state, in a manner of speaking. Some providers and policies allow for you and one other adult on a given policy. So if you don’t have a partner (or your partner has access to a separate form of health insurance), you might be able to add a parent under the age of 65.
Of course, there are other options, as well. Individuals over the age of 50 qualify for AARP benefits, including low-cost health insurance policies. And if your parents are under the age of 65 (and thus ineligible for Medicare) and have no or low income, they could qualify for Medicaid benefits through the government marketplace. Or if your parents are still working and earning an income, you could think about paying for an employer-sponsored health plan, which is bound to cost less than private insurance options.
By and large, you will find it difficult to add your parents to your health insurance policy. It is not unheard of and you can certainly find loopholes, but for the most part, these plans are not intended to support more than 1-2 adults, generally considered to be the primary party and a spouse/partner. So it’s in your best interest, financially speaking, to consider options like AARP, Medicaid, and Medicare that can help alleviate the cost of providing health coverage for a dependent parent.
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