What to Do When Dependent Dental Benefits Don’t Last Through Age 26

By Jenifer Dorsey

Dependent Dental Age OutMy 22-year-old daughter just graduated college, and we learned she can no longer receive benefits through my employer’s dental insurance plan. I thought dependents had to be covered through age 26. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, dental insurance plans are not held to the same provisions as health insurance plans. This applies to both the individual and group dental marketplaces. Nonetheless, that does not mean all dental insurance plans will age out dependents once they reach 19 or cease to become full-time students through age 23.

Employers may opt to offer dependent dental coverage through age 26 as is required for major medical insurance plans. Individual dental insurance plans may also extend eligibility. It should also be noted that pediatric dental and vision benefits are embedded in, bundled with or offered as standalone plans as part of the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits—which are included in all ACA-compliant individual and group health insurance plans. The pediatric dental and vision EHB is required by law to last through age 19, but individual states may increase the age limit.

While your daughter may have been aged out of your employer’s dental benefits, it does not mean she has to go without this important coverage until she finds employment. There are several places to find an individual dental insurance that will accommodate your daughter’s budget. Here are five top options to start your search:

1.    COBRA

Your daughter may be able to continue her current dental insurance coverage through COBRA, which allows individuals and their families to continue certain group health benefits under specific circumstances such as losing dependency status. This law applies to employers with 20 or more employees. Employers and plans are required to notify employees of this option.

If your daughter is eligible, she could continue coverage up to 36 months. You are given 60 days from the date of your COBRA election notice to opt in. With COBRA, you/your daughter will be responsible for the entire premium—both the portion you previously paid and the portion your employer covered—plus a 2 percent administrative fee.  If you have questions, talk to your employer’s benefits advisor.

2.    Your state’s health insurance exchange

In some states, standalone dental and vision plans for adults are offered through the health insurance exchange. Visit your state’s health insurance exchange website to determine if this is an option where you live.

3.    Directly from a health insurance carrier

Many health insurance carriers offer standalone dental insurance plans for individuals. You could contact your current health insurance carrier to see what it offers. You can also shop around and compare plans by visiting carrier websites

4.    Through an agent or broker

An agent or broker can provide you with dental insurance options in your area, too. If you do not already work with an agent or broker, ask family or friends for recommendations or conduct and Internet search for agents and brokers in your area.

5.    Multi-carrier marketplaces such as dentalinsurance.org

Websites such as dentalinsurance.org, ehealthinsurance.com, and healthpocket.com allow you to compare plans from multiple carriers, which can help you find the right balance of dental benefits that fit your daughter’s oral care needs and a monthly premium that fits her budget. Plans at dentalinsurance.org start as low as $15 per month. You can get a personalized quote in seconds—no contact information needed until the time you apply.

Remember: Not all dental insurance plans are created equal. No matter where you shop, spend some time comparing plans. Read our “10 Tips for Buying Dental Insurance Online” for more information on selecting the right coverage.

If you need help finding a plan or have questions, contact a dentalinsurance.org agent at 888-468-3390.


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