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Can I Put My Parents on My Health Insurance?

You may want to add your parents to your health plan if they aren't eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, which are government-sponsored health plans for people over 65 or low-income individuals and families. You can only add your parents to your health insurance if you claim them as dependents when filing taxes — and if your health plan allows it. Dependents typically refer to children or spouses, but there are situations in which parents can also be supported. The process of adding your parents to your health insurance plan may require some research into your insurance policy's rules and restrictions.

When Should You Add Your Parents to Your Health Plan?

Some insurance companies will allow you to add a parent that is a dependent to your health plan so long as you've already listed your parent as a legal tax dependent. Your parents must have earned less than $3,700 annually and you must be able to prove that you provided at least half of their financial needs, which can include housing, food, transportation and more. To add them to your health insurance plan, you must meet specified dependency guidelines as set by your insurance carrier — which can vary from company to company. Many insurers require proof that your parent lives with you and is on your tax return as a dependent.

Your parents cannot be someone else’s legal dependent.

How To Add a Parent to Your Health Plan

Health plans that allow parents to be added to a plan likely require that you meet certain conditions, like claiming them as dependents on your federal income tax return. In order to declare one or both parents as dependents, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your parents must be a citizen or residents of the United States

  • Your parents must have a taxable income of $3,700 or less annually

  • Your parents cannot be someone else's legal dependent

  • Your parents cannot file a joint tax return

  • You must have paid for half of their financial needs, such as food, housing and more

Most insurance providers allow you to add dependents to your plan during the open enrollment period, which typically runs from November until the end of the year. The marketplace's special open enrollment period runs through August 15th as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may also make changes to your plan outside the open enrollment period if you have a qualifying event.

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

Dependents are family members who are eligible for coverage under your health insurance plan as long as they meet certain criteria as defined by your insurance policy. They must rely mostly on you for financial support and you must claim them as a dependent on your taxes. Generally, dependents often include:

  • Spouses and domestic partners

  • Children and stepchildren

  • Adopted children

  • Children under your legal guardianship

  • Disabled children

  • Foster children

  • Financially dependent grandchildren

  • Children from your domestic partner

  • Parents (depending on your plan and other criteria)

Some insurance companies will allow you to add a parent that is a legal dependent to your health plan.

Dependents on your health insurance plan generally have the same benefits that you have, or they may choose among plans that include dental coverage, vision, health and more.

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What Types of Health Insurance Plans Can I Share With My Parents?

Every insurance company has explicit outlines regarding who may qualify as a dependent; mostly qualifying only children and spouses — but some exceptions allow parents, including:

TRICARE Coverage for Military Families and Parents

TRICARE is a healthcare program for U.S. service members and their family members. With TRICARE, if you have a dependent parent or parent-in-law and are on active duty for more than 30 days, your dependent parents or parents-in-law can get care in military hospitals and clinics. They also can enroll in TRICARE Plus, which is a primary care program offered at some military hospitals and clinics.

Health Insurance Marketplace and Private Insurance

As mentioned above, in many cases a dependent parent may be included in your health plan if you have a private health insurance plan or a marketplace plan as long as you claim each parent as a tax dependent. Check with your state marketplace to see if you may add a parent to your health plan or speak with an agent to find one that will allow it. Private health plans don't necessarily cost more than marketplace plans if you do not qualify for a subsidy.

You must be responsible for half of their financial needs, such as food, housing and more.

Employer Health Plan

Check with your health insurance company directly about adding a parent as a dependent on your health insurance. You also may want to reach out to your company's human resources department for additional assistance. If your insurance company won't allow you to add a parent as dependent on your health plan, you could help your parents find an individual policy of their own.

Medicaid

Medicaid offers health coverage for low-income single people, families, the elderly, pregnant women and people with disabilities at little or no cost. Your parents may qualify for Medicaid if they earn no more than $2,000 to $3,000 annually.

Medicare

Once a parent reaches the age of 65, they will have more healthcare options. Most people age 65 or older are eligible for medical hospital insurance coverage, Medicare Part A, if they have worked enough and paid enough Medicare taxes. You can also buy Part B coverage at a low monthly rate. It's advised that your parents sign up for Part B as soon as they are eligible, or else they will pay a fine each year going forward. Certain people younger than 65 can qualify for Medicare as well, including those with disabilities.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

Dependent care flexible spending accounts aren't health plans but can still be invaluable for family caregivers. This spending account allows you to set aside pre-tax cash allocated for a dependent's health services and care. Not all employers offer a dependent care flexible spending account, so check with your employer first to see if you can save a little money while taking care of your parents.

You can add dependents to your plan during the open enrollment period or if you have a qualifying event like a new job or change of address.

FAQs

Can I add my sibling to my health insurance plan?

You can only add your sibling to your health insurance plan if they qualify as your dependent and have lived with you for at least six months. They can't make more than $3,000 a year and must be financially dependent on you for at least half of their living expenses. They also cannot be claimed as dependents by anyone else.

Can I add my spouse's parents to my health insurance plan?

No, you cannot add your spouse's parents to your health insurance plan unless they are your legal dependents and rely on you for financial support (at least half of all expenses), and are not eligible for Medicaid.

How do you remove a family member from your health plan?

You can remove a family member from your health plan by calling your insurance carrier and requesting to remove them. You may need to provide proof that they are no longer dependent on you.

Update Your Family's Health Plan

If your parents need health insurance and are not eligible for low-cost, subsidized health plans, you may be able to add them to your own if you meet certain requirements. SmartFinancial can help you find a plan that will work with you after you supply some information. Compare the best options for health insurance in your area by entering your zip code below and answering a few quick questions.

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