Change Your Income, Change Your Health Insurance Plan

People can change their insurance plan if their income levels change.


People who qualified for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act aren’t necessarily locked into the plan they chose. And that can be good news for people whose income fluctuates during the year. Here’s our response to the latest reader questions on coverage through the health exchanges.

Do you have any idea how the exchanges will administer changes throughout the year? Our current income is about $38,000 per year, which qualifies us for an enhanced silver plan. My husband often gets seasonal construction work, and that can increase his income to about $65,000. When he reports that change in income, will he be required to stay in the enhanced silver plan and pay the full cost, or can he switch to a lower-cost plan that he can afford?

From your description of your plan and your income, it sounds as if you and your husband currently qualify for both cost-sharing subsidies and premium tax credits. The subsidies are available to people with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level (currently $38,775 for a couple), and the tax credits are available to those who earn up to four times the poverty level ($62,040 for a couple).

The premium tax credits lower the sticker price and can be applied to any of the four plan types. The cost-sharing subsidies can reduce deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket costs for insurance bought on state and federal exchanges, but are only available to people who buy silver-level plans.

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