There are 19 million young adults across the country that lack basic health coverage. Are you one of them? If so, we’re here to help you understand what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act (or healthcare reform), by providing information and resources to help find the coverage you need.

The ACA Gives Young Adults More Healthcare Options

On March 23, 2010 the federal government passed the healthcare reform law, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This law makes health insurance available to more people, so more can get the care they need. The Affordable Care Act gives young adults greater control over their own healthcare.

The cost of your health plan depends on:

  • The size of your family
  • The ages of everyone applying for coverage
  • Where you live
  • Whether you use tobacco (if you do, you’ll pay more)

Insurance Basics & Your Health

You Can Stay on Your Parents' Plan Until Your 26th Birthday

The healthcare law requires insurers to allow young adults to remain on a parent’s plan only until their 26th birthday. If you are younger than 26, you can join or remain on your parents’ plan even if you are:

  • Attending school
  • Married
  • Not living with your parents
  • Not financially dependent on your parents
  • Eligible to enroll in your employer’s plan

When you turn 26, then you have the option of either joining your employer’s health plan or buying a health insurance plan individually either through the Marketplace or through an insurance company. If you do not buy a health insurance plan at all, then you may have to pay a fee.

Up until you are 30 years old, you may qualify to purchase a catastrophic plan. A catastrophic plan, is only for single people under age 30, or people who qualify through financial hardship. Catastrophic Plans cost less money, but have fewer benefits. They include preventive benefits, but don't cover as much when you are sick. And they usually have high deductibles.

While insurance companies are required to allow parents to keep their children on their plan until age 26, your parents aren’t required to keep you on their plan. This is because you always have the opportunity to buy your own plan.

What Is the Marketplace?

The Marketplace is an insurance exchange established by the government where people can shop and compare health plans online. Your local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company can walk you through the Marketplace, help you buy a health plan that meets your needs and then help enroll you in the plan.

You May Be Eligible to Receive Financial Assistance

You may be eligible for financial assistance from the government to help pay for part of the cost of your health insurance coverage. If you qualify, the government will pay its portion directly to your insurance company, lowering the cost of your monthly premium payment.

You can find out if you qualify for financial assistance using our financial assistance estimator

Where Do I Find More Information for Health Care Reform?

Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have a variety of resources to help you every step of the way. Here are 5 ways to find out more about health insurance.

  1. Click here to find your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company (If you aren't a member yet, click "I don't have my membership card" to search by state or zip code.
  2. Call 1-888-630-BLUE (2583) to speak with a representative about your choices
  3. Visit AskBlue to learn more about healthcare reform and whether you might be eligible for help paying for your coverage
  4. Visit to shop for healthcare coverage, or be directed to your local state exchange
  5. Call 1-800-318-2596 or 1-855-889-4325 to speak with a representative from the health insurance marketplace

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.