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Can My Health Insurance Cover My Children?

The availability of coverage for your children depends on your health plan. You may have a plan that covers only you, or your plan may be a family plan, which would allow you to add your children to the policy.

Job-based health insurance

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not require employers offer coverage for dependents, but most group policies allow you to add your children to your health plan. Under the ACA, plans that include dependent coverage must cover your children up to the age of 26. This includes married children.

Businesses with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable health insurance to avoid paying a penalty. To be considered affordable, an employee’s contribution to premiums to cover just the employee cannot exceed 9.5 percent of his or her wages. Health insurance provided through your job may cost more than 9.5 percent of your income if you also have coverage for your spouse and children.

Enrolling in a plan through the health insurance exchange

If your job does not offer affordable health insurance as a benefit, you are eligible to enroll in a plan in the health insurance marketplace. If your employer does not provide coverage for your family, just your coverage, your uninsured family members may enroll through a health care exchange. When applying, you will be prompted to enter information about your family size, including the ages of your children. You may also enter your income information to determine if you are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions. Cost sharing is the amount of out-of-pocket costs, such as co-payments and deductibles, you are required to pay.

Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP)

You may discover your children are eligible for free or very inexpensive health insurance through your state’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). CHIP is a Medicaid program for children, which has higher income caps for eligibility. Although your family income may be above levels for adult Medicaid eligibility, your children may qualify for CHIP.

Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer covering all things home and living. Her work can be found on

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