Figuring out who you can claim as a dependent is an important part of the Open Enrollment process. It will affect the type of health insurance coverage you’ll receive and whether or not you qualify for discounts. But claiming dependents is not as clear cut as writing down the names of every person that lives in your house.
The Marketplace includes many exceptions when defining dependents, which can be a little confusing. That’s why we’re here to walk you through it.
What is a household?
The government defines a household as 1) the person who files the taxes 2) their spouse (if they have one), and 3) any tax dependents. This is your tax family – the people you file your taxes with – which can be different from your coverage family – the people who you share a plan with. E.g.: a young woman who is over the age of 18 and supports herself might file her own taxes independently but still use her parents’ health insurance plan.
A few tips before we get into the many exceptions for who can be claimed as a dependent:
- Don’t claim someone as a dependent on your health insurance forms if you’re not going to claim them as a dependent on your tax forms.
- Even if your spouse and tax dependents don’t need health coverage, you still need to include them.
Who can you claim as a dependent?
Yes, you can include them in your household:
- Include your spouse, even if you’re living apart unless you’re legally separated or divorced.
- Include parents only if you’ll claim them as tax dependents.
- Include siblings and other relatives only if you’ll claim them as tax dependents.
- Include any child under 21 you take care of and who lives with you, even if not your tax dependent.
- Include any child you’ll claim as a tax dependent, regardless of age.
You can sometimes include them in your household:
- Include children whose custody you share only during years you claim them as tax dependents.
- Include them only if you want to cover them on your Marketplace plan.
- Include an unmarried domestic partner only if you have a child together or you’ll claim your partner as a tax dependent.
No, you can’t include them in your household:
- Don’t include people you just live with — unless they’re a spouse, tax dependent, or covered by another exception in this chart.
- Don’t include a legally separated spouse, even if you live together.
- Don't include a former spouse, even if you live together.
- Don’t include a baby until it’s born. You have up to 60 days after the birth to enroll your baby.
If you have experienced domestic abuse, domestic violence, or spousal abandonment, then you don’t have to include your spouse in your household. Here’s some more information about this exception.
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