Health Insurance 101: What to know when you turn 26

by Ali

Happy 26th Birthday! It's time to make some decisions about your health benefits.

Before you go out and celebrate your birthday in an epic way, you need to think about your health insurance coverage first. Why? Because once you turn 26 you are no longer eligible to be on your parents’ plan.

You can sign up 60 days before or after your 26th birthday. But where to start?

It turns out over 88% of Americans choose the wrong plan and end up wasting more than $500 a year. Take Command Health is here to help you understand the market, see through the fine print, and make a smart decision.

To get started, we put together this handy graphic to help you get familiar with some key terms and phrases you'll want to know:

Health insurance 101 turning 26

 TCH shop smart

We know that shopping for health insurance can be overwhelming, especially when its your first time. We put together 3 simple tips that can help you shop like a pro and get a great outcome:

Know your health insurance options

There are several ways to purchase health insurance. When you shop at, you’re only seeing “on-exchange” plans. However, insurance companies only make a fraction of their plans available “on exchange." If you go directly to an insurance company’s website, you’ll see their “off-exchange”plans. There are also private exchanges, co-ops, and even faith-based “medical sharing” plans that function similar to insurance. At Take Command Health, we can help you quickly see ALL of your options. 

TCH oop

Statistically, over 75% of your costs in the next year are predictable based on your known needs. What really drives costs, and therefore your plan choice, are the things you know about: prescriptions, doctors visits, therapy, medical equipment, etc. If you’re healthy, maybe you plan on none of these things–which is just as important to know. At Take Command Health, you can quickly search for your prescriptions or tell us about any health needs you are managing such as “physical therapy” or “having a baby.”  We’ll run all the numbers for you and help you estimate your out-of-pocket costs on each plan!  Brilliant!

TCH advantage

One way to pay too much for health insurance is to leave money on the table. Six in 10 young adults will qualify for coverage that costs $75 or less a month after tax credits! We’ll help you determine if you’re eligible for tax credits and automatically apply them to your plan each month without the hassle of You’re welcome!

TCH why

Take Command Health is here to empower you to be a smart shopper when it comes to your health insurance. Our online tool is free and easy to use. Within minutes, you can compare all plan types including faith based, and those that are both on and off the exchange! We are data driven, innovative, and trying to shake up the health insurance industry. Give it a try!

Have a question? You can always email us at too and we'd be pleased to help.

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Picture of Ali

Hi, I'm Ali! I wrote this blog because I love helping people decode confusing insurance jargon and understand the fine print. I'm a licensed health insurance professional and specialize in simplifying health insurance for individuals and small businesses. My QSEHRA articles have been featured regularly on Accounting Today, Accounting Web, HRWeb, and other industry publications. I'm also a member of Take Command Health's client success team and a full-time mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!