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May 25 2011 12:14 PM

My 22-year-old daughter just graduated from college. What options does she have for health insurance?

Many health care plans used to drop a dependent once he or she turned 19 or graduated from college. However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 extends dependents’ eligibility to age 26. Even if a child can't be claimed as a “dependent” in the eyes of the IRS, he or she can be covered on a parent's health insurance plan up to age 26.

So your daughter will be guaranteed coverage on your plan until age 26. It doesn’t matter how a parent receives his or her coverage, independently or through work, his or her child will have access to the coverage.

If your young adult already has dropped off your plan, he or she can rejoin when open enrollment begins. If your child is under 26 and married, he or she still is eligible to join your plan. Also, if your child lives in a different state, he or she is eligible. However, your child’s spouse does not necessarily have the ability to join your plan.

So, congratulations on your daughter’s graduation. Hopefully, the ability to stay on your health insurance plan will give her some peace of mind and ultimately more freedom to pursue professional, educational and personal advancement.

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Laura Adams is a personal finance expert and award-winning author who is Senior Insurance Analyst for InsuranceQuotes.com. She represents Bankrate Insurance’s web properties in the media and works as an advocate to make sure consumers protect their financial futures by having the right kinds of insurance.

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