Obamacare: stay-at-home mom’s household income

I have insurance under my job but my wife is not covered under my insurance. She does not work, she is a stay-at-home mom and receives no income. I am the only one receiving income under my household. Can my wife qualify for Obamacare on her own?

Breadwinner in Georgia

Dear Breadwinner in Georgia,

I have a mixed answer for you.
You say that your wife is not covered by your group plan from your job. If she is not covered there because the plan is not offered to spouses, then the answer is yes, she can apply for her own insurance and possibly get subsidies. If your group plan is open to spouses, then she could still apply for her own insurance but she would not qualify for any subsidies.
There are no standards about how much an employer plan can charge for covering spouses. An employer’s plan is considered “affordable” under health reform if it costs you less than 9.5% of your income to cover yourself (single); the plan can cost a great deal more than that to cover your spouse and it still meets the “affordable” standard.
Assuming that your group plan is not offered to spouses, then the next question is what income will be considered for her subsidies. Married couples’ household income is their joint income, no matter who is working or not working. In your case, her household income is your wages from your job. That income and the number of people in your household will determine how much help (subsidy) she can get to purchase her own plan. A household of three, for example, could earn up to $78,120 and still qualify for some government help to buy health insurance. You can estimate her subsidy using the Kaiser Family Foundation calculator.


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.