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Insights & advice

Who can be a dependent on health insurance?

Oct. 2022 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

  • Your dependent can be your spouse or partner, and any children you have

  • You can usually only add dependents to your plan if a major life event occurs, like marriage or a birth

  • It can cost more to add dependents to your plan

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What is a dependent for health insurance?

When it comes to health insurance, your dependent can be your spouse or partner, and any children you have.

Your dependents are covered under your plan which means they could be entitled to benefits you might have through your workplace or a personal plan you hold.

FYI: This doesn’t happen automatically, so make sure you add any dependents at the same time you apply for coverage for yourself, or as they enter your life, such as when a child is born.

Who can you add as a dependent to your health insurance plan?

This may vary from plan to plan, but in general: 

  • Your spouse or common-law partner

  • Your children, including any step-children, until they turn either 18 or 21, or up to 25 if they’re studying full-time at a recognized education institution

Can you add your new partner as a dependent?

Yes, but it must be your legal partner, whether that’s a spouse or common-law partner.  

Do your parents or siblings qualify as dependents?

In most cases, no. 

How long can your child be on your health insurance plan?

It can vary, but most plans allow you to keep your children on your plan until they turn 18 or 21, or up to 25 if they’re studying full-time at a recognized educational institution.

If they get married before this age, they’re generally no longer eligible for coverage under your plan.

How do you add a dependent to your health insurance plan?

Once you’ve taken out the initial policy, you’re usually only able to add more dependents if:

  • You get married or enter into a common-law relationship and now have a spouse to add

  • You have a baby or adopt, meaning you now have a dependent child to add

  • Your child goes back to school, like if a 22- year- old who was working goes back to grad school

  • Your spouse loses their workplace coverage, through a major life event like retiring, losing their job or simply quitting

Does it cost more to add a dependent to your health insurance plan?

Yes. This cost will vary depending on factors, including the age of your dependents. As you add or remove dependents over time, your premiums will reflect that change as well

Can I remove someone from my health insurance?

This depends on whether you’re with a workplace plan or a personal insurance plan.

With a personal insurance plan, you can usually remove a dependent at any time.  

If you’re with a workplace plan, you can usually only remove them because of a major life event, like:

  • A child ages out of eligibility, like turning 26  
  • You get divorced or separated  
  • A dependent passes away

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