My 26th birthday is next week and I will lose coverage under my parents plan at the end of this month. Open Enrollment has closed. What do I do now? | KFF

You must act now to review your coverage options and enroll in new coverage. you may have more than one option.

If your parent’s plan was offered by an employer with more than 20 workers, you should be eligible for cobra. this is an option to continue coverage under the plan for up to 36 months. Cobra coverage is often an expensive option because your parent’s employer is no longer required to contribute to the premium, but it can be an important option for some young adults, for example, if you are currently undergoing treatment for a condition and prefer not to switch coverage now.

Reading: Health insurance when you turn 26

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If you have not yet received notice from your parent’s plan that your dependent status is about to end, you must notify them that you are turning 26. Your parent’s plan must send you a notice of your right to choose cobra. You have 60 days from the last of that notice or the date dependent coverage ends to elect or decline Cobra coverage. If you choose Cobra, you have up to 45 days to pay the first premium (Cobra coverage will take effect the first day after your dependent’s coverage ends, so the first premium will cover time retroactive to that date). If you do not make the first payment on time, your election to collect will not take effect.

Once you elect to collect and pay your first premium, you won’t be eligible to apply for a Marketplace plan with tax credits until the next open enrollment period. although cobra lasts for 36 months, you have the option to cancel it sooner if you are eligible for other coverage.

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The market is another option to consider. Premium tax credits subsidize the cost of Marketplace coverage if your annual income is at least as high as the federal poverty level ($12,880 for a single person in 2022), so for many young adults, this option may be more affordable. Typically, people can only apply for Marketplace coverage during open enrollment. however, loss of dependent status under your parent’s plan is a qualifying event that makes you eligible for a special enrollment period (September). your sep lasts 60 days from the date of your qualifying event (the day your parent’s coverage ends), but when loss of coverage can be anticipated, you can also apply for new coverage up to 60 days before your event qualifier. Acting early makes it more likely that you won’t have a gap in coverage.

You can apply for Marketplace coverage on your own or ask a Navigator or other Marketplace assistance program for help. indicate on the marketplace website that you are requesting coverage during a sep and select your plan. in states with a federal marketplace, you will be required to provide proof of your qualifying event before your new coverage becomes effective. For example, if you were also eligible for cobra under your parent’s plan, submitting a copy of your cobra notice can document your eligibility for sep. healthcare.gov will give you 30 days from the date you select your new plan to provide proof of the loss of your other coverage. it is very important to act quickly to complete this verification process. If you do not submit the required documentation within 30 days, your plan selection may be cancelled. you can restart your application for a sep if your qualifying event was less than 60 days ago.

Finally, if your income is very low, you may qualify for Medicaid. Most states have expanded Medicaid eligibility to cover adults with current monthly income up to 138% of the federal poverty level (approximately $1,481 monthly income for a single person in 2022). Medicaid is open for enrollment throughout the year. You can also apply for Medicaid through the Marketplace, and you can get help with your application from a navigator or other assistance program in person.

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