Can I put my parents on my health insurance?

The first step to covering your parents on your health insurance through your full-time work benefits package is to claim them as your dependents when you file your yearly taxes. Your parents may qualify if you provide half or more of their financial needs.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

UPDATED: Mar 15, 2022

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The Rundown

  • Your senior parents will not receive health insurance coverage from your policy unless you care for them financially and they qualify as a tax dependent

  • Your parents do not have to reside with you to receive health insurance coverage under your policy

  • If your parents rely on you for half or more of their financial needs over the year, you can claim them as dependents and add them to your insurance policy

Health insurance terms and conditions can be a tricky field to navigate. It can be hard to know whether your senior or sick parents can be included on your insurance policy as dependents. In many cases, putting your parents on your health insurance is not possible unless they qualify as your tax dependents.

Even some of the best insurance companies will not cover your parents under your policy at all. However, some insurance companies will cover senior, sick, or dependent parents that rely on you. In addition, there are several differences between putting a child or stepchild on your policy and putting your parents on your health insurance policy. However, you will be able to cover all family members who qualify as your dependents when you file your taxes.

A variety of insurance companies can fit your needs and desires for healthcare coverage with monthly costs that will not empty your wallet. Use your ZIP code in our free insurance comparison tool to find the perfect health insurance company for all your needs.

Who is considered dependent on health insurance?

Are you curious to know the definition of health insurance dependent? A dependent is a person who is eligible for coverage under a policyholder’s health insurance coverage Traditionally, dependents are children, stepchildren, or grandchildren you legally provide for financially. Any child under 19, or students up to age 24, can be claimed as dependents on your yearly tax filing. For example, dependents over 19 who still live with their parents and attend full-time education courses will be eligible for their parents to claim as a dependent until they are 24 years old.

If you’re wondering whether you can add a parent to your health insurance, parents are not usually covered as dependents by your health insurance policy. However, there are several cases in which you may be able to claim family members who are not your children as dependents. Parents for whom you provide care and financial assistance may qualify as your dependents. If you financially provide for more than half of your parents’ living expenses over a year, they can be claimed on your taxes as dependents. Thus, they can qualify as a dependent for your health insurance policy as well.

Unlike your children or spouse, you do not have to reside in the same home as your parents to claim them as dependents on your taxes or include them on your health insurance policy. You must be responsible for providing financial support for half or more of their needs and living costs over a year, regardless of where they live or with whom they live. Many parents may live in a nursing home or low-income senior facility and may still receive health insurance services from their children’s full-time employment benefits.

Without meeting the qualifications to be considered a dependent when filing taxes, parents will not be able to be placed on your health insurance policy, and they must seek other, low-cost insurance options for coverage. The most common of these options are Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is most often used for elderly individuals and is a federal health insurance program that covers all individuals over 65 or those with qualifying disabilities.

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When should I consider adding my parents to my health insurance?

You may wish to get your parents started with your health insurance policy as soon as possible. However, you may have to wait until tax season, when you can legally declare them as your dependents. Until you can claim them as a dependent, they will not be covered under your insurance policy, which may take some time. In addition, you may also have to wait for an open enrollment period with your insurance company to add your parents to the policy.

The entire process of getting your parents started with health insurance under your policy may take up to several months to a year, depending on when open enrollment is.

When deciding when your parents should get started with an insurance policy, the best answer is as soon as possible. Health insurance can cover treatments and prescriptions for common ailments from age, and having your parents covered before any health-related issues arise is ideal. Placing your parents on your health insurance policy can take time, which puts your parents at risk for non-treatment until after the insurance policy takes effect. This gap in insurance coverage may leave your parents struggling with health-related issues, high out-of-pocket costs, and discomfort while you wait for their health insurance policy to kick in.

If possible, you would benefit from claiming your parents as dependents, if they qualify as such, so that you can get your health insurance coverage to extend to them and cover their needs. This process can be simple using tax filing software. When in doubt, you may wish to reach out to a tax expert and inquire as to what proof you may need to provide to show that you are responsible for your parents’ financial well-being.

Cheap Health Insurance Alternatives for Seniors

To bridge the gap of time between your parents’ health insurance coverage and their previous insurance, you may wish to have your parents apply for Medicare or Medicaid. Both Medicare and Medicaid are federally funded health insurance programs that offer free or low-cost health insurance services to individuals who do not have access to health insurance through other means.


Medicare is most often used for those over 65 to provide health insurance and has three components to help individuals with their healthcare needs. Medicare Part A covers hospital-related fees for hospital stays, nursing facilities, hospice, and healthcare services rendered in a facility. Many of the best nursing homes that accept Medicare offer long-term stays and on-site medical care. Medicare Part B focuses on primary care visits, medicinal equipment, and anything that prevents illness or disease. Medicare Part D refers to the incurred costs of prescriptions, medications, and vaccinations.


Medicaid covers a much broader spectrum of patients than Medicare, but some seniors may be eligible for Medicaid services instead of Medicare. To qualify for Medicaid, individuals must have a low income based on a modified adjusted gross income, which considers any dependents, children, or additional costs individuals have. With Medicaid, many services and hospital stays rendered can be free or have a small premium for coverage.

Either program covers seniors and those with disabilities that make work difficult. Speaking with a Medicaid or Medicare office for assistance can help you know which program best serves your parents and what they need to file their application.

Your Health Insurance Can Keep Your Senior Parents Covered

Some insurance companies will allow you to cover your senior parents if you meet basic requirements for coverage. While you must be the provider of over half of their income and money over a year, your parents may not have to physically live in the same house as you to qualify for coverage under your health insurance.

Among other stipulations, getting your parents covered under your insurance policy can be possible with several insurance companies. Some may only require your parents to be your tax dependents, while others may not agree to cover parents under your health insurance policy at all. If your parents are not eligible for health coverage with your policy, there are plenty of other cheap alternatives to use so that your parents have healthcare. From Medicare to the Health Marketplace, healthcare is accessible without an employer and can be relatively inexpensive. Some discounts may also apply to seniors.

Finding the best healthcare company for your needs can be tricky, but our free insurance comparison tool is available to help. Use your ZIP code to view all the best estimates from all the health insurance companies on the market today.

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