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Is employer-based coverage required to cover dependents (spouses and children)?


Under the ACA, if an employer with 50 or more employees doesn't offer coverage that meets minimum standards for employees and their dependents, and employees access premium tax credits through the exchange, the employer may have to pay a tax penalty beginning for plan year 2015. However, the proposed rules about employer shared responsibility have interpreted the phrase "and their dependents" to mean children under age 26, but not spouses. At this writing, final regulations haven't yet been issued. For more information, see irs.gov. Small employers with fewer than 50 employees aren't required to offer coverage to employees or their dependents.

Also, if employer-based coverage includes children, the ACA requires the employer to let children up to age 26 stay on their parent's policy. Adult children can stay on their parent's policy whether or not they live in the parent's home, are married, or the parent no longer claims them as a dependent on their tax return. The employee can be required to pay for this coverage, however.

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