If you have a sibling without health insurance, it’s understandable that you would be concerned. Without health insurance, your sibling is vulnerable to expensive medical bills should the unexpected happen. Most health insurance plans will only let you cover your siblings on your insurance plan in specific circumstances.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
You can only have your siblings covered on your insurance plan if they meet the criteria for qualifying dependents. Alternatives could include having them covered on your parents' plan, seeking insurance through Medicaid or obtaining a catastrophic plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Enroll as a Qualifying Dependent
To enroll a sibling in your health insurance plan, most companies will require your sibling to be a qualified dependent. This means that when you file your taxes, you count your sibling as a dependent. To do that, you and your sibling need to meet certain criteria. Depending on the circumstances, your siblings may be qualifying children or qualifying relatives.
For your siblings to be qualifying children for tax purposes, they need to be younger than you. They need to be under age 19 if not enrolled in school and under age 24 if they are enrolled in school. They can be any age if they are permanently disabled. They also need to have lived with you for more than six months and not have provided more than half of their own support. They also can’t file a joint tax return; they also can’t file a joint tax return.
There are different criteria for your sibling to be a qualifying relative. Your sibling can’t be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax returns. Your sibling’s gross income must be below $4,150 as of 2018. You also must provide more than half of your sibling’s income for the year.
If you meet all the criteria and claim your siblings as dependents on your taxes, your health insurance may allow you to enroll them as part of a family plan. For specifics on how to enroll them, contact your insurance plan or human resources department. They may allow open enrollments once per year. They may also qualify for a special enrollment period if they involuntarily lost their coverage.
Enroll in a Parent’s Plan
Depending on the age of your siblings, they may qualify to enroll in your parent’s health insurance plan. Typically, you can stay on a parent’s health insurance until age 26. You can be married, have children or have access to employer coverage and still stay on your parent’s plan. Your parents can enroll them during open enrollment or during a special enrollment period if they involuntarily lost other health insurance coverage.
Consider Other Health Insurance Options
If your siblings don’t qualify as dependents and can’t enroll in a parent’s plan, they may have other options available. Depending on their income and their state’s regulations, they may qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid provides health insurance to those with low incomes. If they are enrolled in a college or university, they may qualify for student health insurance.
Depending on their age and income, they may also qualify for a lower-cost catastrophic health insurance plan. With catastrophic coverage, they pay low monthly premiums and have a high deductible. Some preventative care is also covered under a catastrophic plan. For information, they should check the health insurance marketplace in their state.
- HealthCare.gov: Who to Include in Your Household
- IRS: Publication 501 (2018), Dependents, Standard Deduction and Filing Information
- HealthCare.gov: How to Get or Stay on a Parent’s Plan
- HealthCare.gov: Getting Covered if You're Under 30
- HealthCare.gov: The "Metal" Categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum
Melinda Hill Sineriz is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her work has appeared on Pocket Sense and Sapling. She specializes in business, personal finance, and career writing. She has worked in insurance sales and financial planning, helping families to manage their money and prepare for the future. Learn more about her and her work at thatmelinda.com.