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Health Insurance

Best Health Insurance Options for Young Adults

Health Insurance is now more affordable, comprehensive, and accessible thanks to the Affordable Care Act and other updated legislation. Insurance is now offered at five tiers, which can suit anyone’s needs.

young adult health insurance

Finding the best health insurance for young adults can seem daunting regarding health insurance plans and information. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act and other updated insurance plans make insurance easy and affordable.

Best Health Insurance for Young Adults

Health insurance is a crucial part of staying healthy for all Americans. Fortunately, many health insurance plans and other options are affordable and accessible for young adults. Young adults under 26 can remain on their parent’s health plan. 

There are also options for students and other more affordable off-market health plans. Young people working full-time have access to health plans that their employer sponsors. Those that aren’t working full time have access to governmental programs like the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid. 

Off-exchange Health Insurance 

An off-exchange health insurance policy is a policy purchased from an insurance company. Individuals can buy the plans directly from a broker or an agent separate from the Affordable Care Act marketplace. The plans and their prices vary based on what the individual selects for their policy.

Student Health Insurance Coverage 

Student health insurance coverage is a health insurance plan offered to current students and recent graduates. Students still on their parent’s plan but attending school in a different state should consider getting this coverage. With one of these plans, the student will have a health plan even if their parents’ plan doesn’t cover the state where they’re going to school.

Staying on a Family Health Insurance Plan

Young adults can stay on their family plan until they are 26 or 29 in New York. Young adults can remain on their family plan even if they’re married, attending school, or financially independent. 

They can stay on their family plan even if they’re living separately from their parents and have access to their employer-sponsored care plans. If their parents require them to chip in for their portion of the plan, the amount they would have to pay is similar to how much they would pay for a separate plan.

What Does the Affordable Care Act Mean for Me

Signed into law by President Obama in 2010, the Affordable Care Act provides affordable healthcare to American Citizens. The act allows adult children to stay on their parent’s health insurance policy until they are 26. 

Before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, insurance companies could remove young adults from their parents’ policy anytime and without notice. Their actions left a lot of college-aged kids without coverage as they were getting their education. The Affordable Care Act also allows young people access to the same benefits according to their budget.

Health insurance marketplace plans

The health insurance marketplace plans have five tiers of coverage: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Catastrophic. Each tier is designed to fit the applicant’s income and overall health. These plans also come with tax credits based on the household income level.

The Platinum and Gold tiers have the lowest deductibles but the highest monthly premiums. These plans are also ideal for those young people with families that may need access to health care quickly and affordably.

The Silver tier is ideal for young couples who plan to start families relatively quickly. The balance between the monthly premium and the deductible is suitable for giving them access to their coverage for an affordable monthly price.

Bronze Health Insurance Plans

The Bronze level health insurance plans have one of the lowest monthly costs but the highest deductible. The programs provide preventative care without copays or coinsurance but will cost the applicant the most out of pocket if they need emergency healthcare. These plans work well for those young people with relatively low healthcare needs.

Catastrophic Health Insurance Plans

The Catastrophic health plan is the lowest-tier plan offered in the marketplace. This plan is only available to adults under 30 or those over 30 who qualify for a hardship/affordability exemption. Because this plan is certified by the Affordable Care Act, it still follows all of the ACA guidelines. These guidelines include chronic disease management and emergency services. While this plan has the lowest monthly premium, it also carries a deductible of almost $9,000, according to the Health Insurance website

Free Health Insurance Options for Young Adults

There are several healthcare options available to young adults at no additional charge. Young adults working full-time have access to health insurance plans through their employers. Medicaid is an option for those not working full-time or working somewhere without employee benefits. An important note to keep in mind: those under 29 in New York or 26 in the rest of the country may only have health plan options with Medicaid or through an employer.

Employer-sponsored Health Care

One of the most cost-effective options for health care is the option to get it through a full-time employer. Due to rising healthcare costs, employees pay more for their employer-sponsored plans than they used to. However, getting a plan through your employer is usually better than having to secure a plan separately.

Employers typically have between three and five plans available for their employees. Also, the employee can add as many dependents as necessary. The payments for the plan come out of their paycheck pre-tax. Few employers offer benefits to part-time staff, but some out there provide them.


Medicaid is a governmental program designed to offer free or low-cost health care to citizens living 138% below the federal poverty line. The government funds the program, but each state sets its own rules for who can sign up and the other requirements for the program. Enrolling in Medicaid makes the most sense for young adults out of work or those not working full-time.

Should I Stay on My Parent’s Plan

Whether a young adult should stay on their parent’s health insurance plan depends on their income, location, health history, and many other factors. Those living in a separate state from their parents might consider switching over their coverage so they’re confident the coverage extends to their local healthcare establishment. 

A parent’s plan may carry a higher deductible. If the young adult doesn’t have the emergency funds for the higher deductible, they might consider switching to a plan that requires a lower deductible. Likewise, if the policyholders have health conditions, they could impact the prices the dependent would pay for services. Each young adult should evaluate their needs to make the best choices for their circumstances.

How Much Is Health Insurance a Month for a Single Person

Health insurance for a single person varies based on their selected tier, income, location, health history, covered family members, and several other factors. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s national analysis of marketplace plans, the lowest average price for a Bronze plan in 2022 is $329 across all states. 

The lowest average Silver plan was $428, and the lowest cost Gold plan was $462. The plan prices vary by state, with West Virginia coming in as the most expensive and Maryland coming in as the least costly.

A person requiring more doctor visits and monthly prescriptions will need more than the cheapest Bronze level plan. Different income levels also qualify for additional subsidies. Those with lower incomes will pay less for the same coverages as those above the poverty line. 

Short-term Health Insurance for Young Adults

Short-term health insurance plans cover a person during an insurance gap. The plans provide an affordable way for those without insurance to cover essential benefits. Young people who have just been released from their parents’ policies but haven’t found a suitable insurance replacement might find these plans helpful. 

What are My Options if I Become Pregnant?

Before the Affordable Care Act, pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition, excluding any complications from or after birth from an insurance policy. Insurance companies can’t deny new or existing moms coverage for pregnancy-related illnesses or injuries. 

If a young woman becomes pregnant, insurance covers a newborn as an extension of her body for the first 30 days of life. Starting day 31, she’ll have to enroll her baby on her policy separately, which would cause her premium to increase.

Mental Health Coverage 

The Affordable Care Act advises insurance companies to treat physical and mental illnesses similarly. This means there’s a wide variety of healthcare available on the market. The best mental health coverage for young adults depends on their mental health needs. The most flexible plans have large in-network providers, so those seeking treatment can find it quickly. Some plans also offer online or in-person support. As with all coverage options, prices vary from plan to plan.

Is There a Tax Penalty for Not Having Insurance?

Health coverage was mandatory for all taxpayers starting when the ACA became law (2009) until around 2019. The fee was either 2% of the person’s yearly income or $695 for adults and $347.50 for kids per uninsured person. 

While there’s no longer a federal penalty for not carrying health insurance, a few states still require it and fine those who don’t have it. New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington, DC, implemented insurance penalties in 2019 and 2020. Massachusetts implemented theirs in 2006 but didn’t enforce it until the Federal penalty fell away in 2019.