Affordable Care Act: whose income counts for daughter’s plan

“I have coverage as a spouse through a settlement my husband received when he became disabled.  My daughter (his step-daughter) cannot be covered on that plan, however.  She is eighteen years old and lives with us.  Will she qualify for a plan from the exchange?  If so, what income would we list on her application – hers (which is zero), mine, or mine plus my husband’s?”   

Maine Mom

Dear Maine Mom,

She may qualify for a plan from the exchange, since she does not have an employer plan offered to her.  I say “may” because the exchange requires buyers to come from households earning less than 400% of Federal Poverty.  Four hundred percent of Federal Poverty for a household of three people is $78,120.


Both your and your husband’s incomes will count on her application for coverage, as long as you declare her as a dependent on your taxes.  See IRS Publication 501 for the whole low down on what makes a child a dependent for tax purposes.  Even if you and your husband file taxes separately, the exchange bases subsidies on household income.

Assuming that your household income is less than 400% and you want subsidies to pay for her plan, then the exchange is your next stop.  Of course, the federal exchange is not working – or at least not working consistently – at the moment.  You can contact insurers directly or work with an insurance broker to look at plans.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.