Obamacare: Domestic partner coverage not affected

My fiancé and I will both be turning 26 in 2014. We already live together and because of the laws about domestic partnership in my state and my employer’s rules, I am able to get health insurance for him through my work. It’s handy because I make much more than him so I don’t feel the hit of the premiums as much as he would, and his work is seasonal so he may get laid off over the winter.  

My question is: what happens if my employer decides to drop insurance for unmarried opposite-sex partners? Would my income then be used in calculating his household income in the health care exchange? We are getting married at the very end of 2014- does it matter for the health care exchange that we would be married during the year?

Not Quite Wed in New York

Dear Not Quite Wed,

I’m not sure how likely it is that your employer will drop domestic partners, but if they did, your fiancé might be able to get COBRA (if your plan offers COBRA).  You didn’t mention whether his parents have coverage or live in New York.  They can cover him for all of 2014, since New York allows unmarried children to stay on the parents’ plan up to age 30.

Failing COBRA or parents’ help, then only his income would be “counted” by the health care exchange.  For tax purposes, you are not married.  So your income won’t show up as support for him.  This might help him get subsidies to purchase a plan.  (The exchange plan may or may not be cheaper than COBRA.  It’s worth checking out.)

Your question about getting married during 2014 is very interesting.  Government subsidies get re-calculated when you file taxes.  So, if he got a subsidy for several months, and then married a highly paid, fabulously successful woman (that’s you), you might owe the government back the money.  You might avoid or at least lessen this problem by filing taxes separately for 2014.  Try doing what-if scenarios on one of the on-line tax filing systems and decide whether filing jointly or separately works best.

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.