Affordable Care Act: Both spouses’ incomes count for subsidies

“My wife and I are curious as to whether or not we can buy individual plans on the marketplace without having to account for each other’s income or if we are forced to buy together. Is it possible for my wife to purchase her own plan and claim the children and for me to buy one that only covers me?  We are both in our 30’s, if that matters.”  

Creative Arkansans

 Dear Creative Arkansans, 

No matter how you buy your plan – you on one, wife and kids on another or all together – it is your household income that matters.  When you apply for coverage, they will ask for your household income which will include both your and your wife’s earnings.  Thus your wife could not go to the exchange with only her paltry income, claiming the children as dependents meanwhile you are a member of the household earning billions.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it does put the kibosh on your creative idea.  It will most likely be cheaper to cover both spouses and the children on one policy rather than separate ones.  If one of you were under age 30, it might be a different story – people under age 30 can get a catastrophic plan, which would cost less.

There may be other reasons to buy separate plans, however.  Say you live for months at a time in other states doing high-paying consulting work.  A family plan with a national network of providers would cost more than buying a “local” plan for the homebodies and a national plan for you.  Short of that, I doubt that separate plans would save you any money.

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.