Do I Qualify for Obama Care (Affordable Care Act or ACA) Subsidies in California?

California Obamacare

Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in California

Obamacare > Ways to Save Money on Obamacare > California

Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in California

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California, you may be able to reduce your health insurance through tax credits or, if your income is very low, by qualifying for Medicaid.

Many people who apply for coverage at the California exchange will be eligible for some form of financial assistance. Read on to learn more about your options.

Who Qualifies for Obamacare Tax Credits?

Obamacare tax credits can immediately bring down your monthly health insurance premiums; you don't have to wait until tax time to claim them. Using these tax credits, many lower-income Americans are able to sign up for free or very low-cost health insurance plans, while others achieve significant savings on monthly premiums.

Tax credits are available for those who are:

  • under age 65
  • not eligible for job-based health coverage or Medicaid, and
  • earning between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.

In 2017, here's what 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level looks like for different household sizes:

  • $12,060 to $48,240 for individuals
  • $16,240 to $64,960 for a family of 2
  • $20,420 to $81,680 for a family of 3
  • $24,600 to $98,400 for a family of 4
  • $28,780 to $115,120 for a family of 5
  • $32,960 to $131,840 for a family of 6
  • $37,150 to $148,560 for a family of 7
  • $41,320 to $165,280 for a family of 8

The amount of your tax credit will be sent directly to your insurer to immediately lower your insurance premiums.

One caveat: If your income significantly increases during the year, you must report the change to Covered California. If you don't, you may find yourself with a big tax bill at the end of the year because you will have to pay back the tax credits for which you were no longer qualified.

Tax credits remain available for 2018 insurance plans even though the Trump administration has decided to end a second type of subsidy that has been paid directly to insurers.

Your final eligibility for tax credits will be determined when you apply for a health plan at Covered California.

Trump Has Ended Obamacare Cost-Sharing Subsidies

On October 12, 2017, the Trump administration decided to end a second type of Affordable Care Act subsidy, called "cost-sharing reductions" or CSRs. Beginning in 2013, when the health insurance marketplaces opened, these subsidies were been paid directly to insurers, allowing them to reduce deductibles and co-payments for people with incomes between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level.

The long-term effects of this decision are as yet unclear. Many health care consumers won't notice direct effects in 2018 because tax-credits will increase to cover the damages.

Getting Free or Low-Cost Coverage Through Medicaid 

You may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid in California, or your children may be able to obtain coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Medicaid. If you are eligible for Medicaid, you will get free or low-cost health care. You will not need to buy a separate health plan through Covered California.

When you apply for health coverage at Covered California, the state will check your application against the Medicaid eligibility rules and tell you whether you qualify for Medicaid or the other savings options described above.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid, your children may be eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Kids covered by CHIP don’t need to be included in another health plan.

As of October 2017, Congress has failed to renew funding for CHIP, but benefits will be available until states run out of money to keep their programs going. We hope that Congress will step in and solve the funding crisis before any state programs go bust. Meanwhile, you can check here to find out when California is likely to run out of CHIP money.

When you apply for health coverage at Covered California, the state will check to see whether your children might qualify for CHIP. If so, it will alert the California CHIP agency.

Learn More

You can learn the final costs for specific plans, including whether you qualify for subsidies or low-cost care programs, when you apply for insurance online at Covered California or when you talk to a navigator or broker about the plans available to you. 

For more information, see How to Sign Up for Obamacare in California.

Share this article

You may also be interested in: