FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2017
Imagine if you will, it’s the beginning of a whole new year. New year, new you! Those resolutions are still going strong. The gym and you have made peace, the Learn A New Language book is on its way, and you’ve only cheated on your diet twice…OK, three times. You even received that raise you’ve deserved for so long. While you may be making it rain with dolla dolla bills y’all, there could be some costly side effects.
We’ve seen and heard all the commercials for the Healthcare Marketplace. Under Obamacare, every American is welcome to go to healthcare.gov, also known as the Marketplace, to enroll and see if they qualify for possible subsidies to help pay for rising health insurance costs. I mean, hey, who doesn’t like a few extra dollars in their pocket, right? While we all are more than welcome to attempt to qualify for subsidies, qualifying itself is a different story.
Subsidy qualification is based off predicted income. When Americans re-enrolled in November or December through the Marketplace for their renewal, everyone had to enter their predicted income. The past four check stubs are most commonly used to figure out that tax credit that would be awarded. This has many Americans paying next to nothing for health insurance. But what happens when they figure it wrong? Last year, we had a customer visit our office. She had enrolled for health insurance and had the Marketplace help estimate her income. Upon filing her taxes, she found her income was going to be significantly more and was now required to repay nearly $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. This is just one of numerous stories where a change or miscalculation has led to large back payments.
The truth is, it’s your responsibility to keep the marketplace informed throughout the year if your income is higher than expected so that the health credit can be adjusted, avoiding the hefty bill at tax time. For most people who receive too much in subsidies, repayment is capped between $300 and $2,500, depending on the person's income and tax filing status. However, there's no repayment cap for people whose income is above 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $47,000). Unfortunately, our customer fell into this category.
Consider this when considering situations in which your income could change dramatically like a new job, opening a new business, or even getting married and combining incomes. You don’t want one of the happiest days of your life to cause a fine that starts out a new life together in debt.
If you have questions regarding your Oklahoma health insurance, ECI is always here.
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