Definition of Dependent Child & Medical Insurance

Written by heather johnston
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Definition of Dependent Child & Medical Insurance
Dependent children usually live at home. (Image by, courtesy of -77-)

Many medical insurance policies cover parent and child as long as the child is considered a dependent. In most cases, a dependent child lives at home or at college, is unmarried and under a certain age.

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The dependent child definition varies by policy. A standard guideline usually follows IRS Code Section 152(a), which includes natural, adopted and stepchildren as well as children under legal guardianship, who live with the insured "parent."

No Federal Standard

There are no federal guidelines outlining dependent status for health insurers, although some states set a minimum definition, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health insurance facts. More than half of states define dependents for group plans.

Group Plans

One of the largest buyers of group health insurance, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, considers unmarried children under age 22 dependents. Many group plans cover older children, under age 25 or 24, who are attending an accredited educational institution.

Individual Plans

Nearly half of the states define dependent coverage for individual health insurance, according to the Kaiser Foundation. The upper end of the age limit reaches between 19 and 25 in most states; Florida requires coverage up to age 30 for unmarried residents.


Dependents with physical or mental disabilities may be covered at any age, depending on the insurer's policy.

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