Q. My 21-year-old son is a college student, and I know the Affordable Care Act has made him eligible to remain on my employer-based insurance plan until age 26. However, if it's cheaper for him to get subsidized coverage through the health insurance marketplace, can he do so?
A. It depends. Almost anyone can shop for coverage on the health insurance marketplace. But your son will only be eligible for subsidies to reduce the cost of coverage under certain circumstances. If you don't claim him as a dependent on your tax return and his own income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 and $45,960 in 2013), he could be eligible for premium tax credits on the exchange. But if you do claim him as a dependent, his eligibility for subsidies will be based on your family's income, not just his own.
It's also worth looking into Medicaid eligibility for your son. Roughly half of states have decided to expand Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($15,856 for an individual in 2013) as provided for under the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid would be even less expensive than a private plan on an exchange. But if you claim your son as a dependent on your tax return, your family's income would have to be no more than 138 percent of poverty in order for him to qualify, says Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.