Obamacare: married, but buying single coverage

I am 56 years old, married, and live in North Carolina.  Can I get my own health insurance or do I have to get health insurance with my husband? 

Independent Wife

Dear Independent Wife,

Yes, you can get your health insurance separate from your husband.  There are many situations where this happens: one spouse is on Medicare and the other is not; one spouse gets coverage from work but the plan is not offered to spouses.

When you apply for health insurance, you will be asked whether a group plan is offered to you from your own job or your spouse’s job.  If you have a group plan open to you, you can still buy your own health insurance but you will not get any subsidies.

You will also be asked for your household income.  Even though you are buying your coverage separate from your husband, your household income includes yours and his wages, salary, etc.  The Affordable Care Act has a specific definition of “modified adjusted gross income“.   They will calculate your percentage of Federal Poverty — and therefore your subsidies — based upon your household income and the number of people.  A two-person household with total income less than $62,040 would qualify for at least some help to buy health insurance.

Keep in mind that you can only buy coverage during open enrollment.  You cannot decide in September that you want to buy it.  If you miss this open enrollment, the next one starts in November for coverage that starts January 2015.

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.