Adding Dependents to Your Health Insurance Plan

Shopping for your family’s 2020 health insurance? Here’s a quick heads up: there are certain regulations that may prevent you from including all your family members on your plan. Read our quick guide to make sure you’re getting the right coverage for all your loved ones.

What Is a Dependent?

In general, a dependent is a relative (most commonly a child or spouse) who relies on you for most of their financial support. You must also claim a dependent on your taxes in order to include them on your health plan.

There are different criteria for each category of dependent. Here’s what you need to know:


To determine if your child is an eligible dependent, they must meet these criteria:

  • Are they related to you? He/she must be your biological child, stepchild, or adopted child, or a foster child in your care.

  • Are they young enough? Your child must be under the age of 26.

    Insider tip → If your child is currently 25, they can stay on your plan until their 26th birthday, when they will have 120 days to pick their own coverage. Some insurers (like Oscar) will let them stay on your plan until the end of the year.

  • Do they live with you? To be a dependent, your child needs to live with you for at least six months of the year.
    Insider tip → If your child is away for education or military service, they can still be considered “at home” with you for health insurance purposes.

  • Do you provide for them financially? If your child has a job, he/she cannot earn more than half of what it costs to support them.

  • Do you claim them on your taxes? Your child cannot file jointly with someone else (e.g. with a spouse), and they cannot be claimed as a dependent by someone else.


Are you legally married? You can add your spouse as a dependent! Don’t forget–if either you or your spouse chooses a family plan over employer-sponsored insurance, you will likely no longer qualify for a government subsidy.

Other Relatives

Certain other relatives (or people who have lived in your home for at least a year) may qualify as dependents if they meet these criteria:

  • Do you claim them on your taxes? Your relative cannot be claimed as a dependent by someone else on their taxes.

  • Do they earn less than $3,000? Your relative must have a gross annual income of under $3,000 to be eligible.

  • Do you provide for them financially? Unfortunately, sending an occasional Venmo doesn’t count. You must provide more than half of your relative’s financial support during the year.

Do You Have to Include Dependents on Your Health Plan?

If you include someone as a dependent on your taxes, you must also provide health insurance for them. However, you don’t necessarily have to include all your dependents on the same plan. If a certain family member uses considerably more health care during the year (e.g. they have a chronic condition like cancer), it may make sense to enroll them in an individual plan with more coverage, and keep the rest of the family on a less-expensive option.

How Do You Add a Dependent on Stride?

When you start your health insurance search on Stride, you’ll enter your zip code and then be prompted to add any family members you wish to include on your plan. If applicable, first add your spouse. Then, select “Add Dependent” for any child or relative whom you claim as a dependent.

add dependents to your plan

Already searched for a plan and wish to add dependents retroactively? Just click the “Build Health Profile” section on the left-hand side of the page, and select “Basic Information.”

add dependents to health insurance

Other Things to Consider

  1. Unborn children don’t count as dependents
    Have a baby on the way? Don’t add them to your plan just yet! Having a baby counts as a qualifying event, so you can enroll in a new plan (or add them to your existing one) once they’re born.

  2. Include ALL your dependents in your income estimation, even if they’re not on your plan

    When applying for a government subsidy, you will be asked to provide your total household size and income. If one of your dependents chooses to get health coverage elsewhere (like through an employer), you should still include them as part of your household for an accurate subsidy estimate. Learn more about estimating your income here.

  3. If someone claims you as a dependent, you can get your own plan... but you’ll pay full price
    Looking to enroll in your own health plan? Keep in mind that you won’t be able to get subsidized prices if someone (e.g. a parent) claims you as their dependent. This doesn’t apply to spouses who file their taxes jointly.

Looking to Buy a 2020 Health Plan for Your Family?

Start your search on Stride! We’ll help you instantly compare all your options and find the one that saves you the most money.

Aly KellerComment