Obamacare: covering two people can cost the same as covering one

I am 63 and live in Florida. I have looked at the ACA for a while now and have done many searches. I am planning to retire in February 2015. I am in VA system and will start Medicare a few months later in June. My wife does not work and is one year younger so we will need to get her insurance for one year.

My question is whenever I put in our married couple income (mine) and pick two people for insurance and get the costs then pick one person in a two-person family, I get the very same cost for one person as I did for two people. Why is that?

Hangin’ a Ralphie

Dear Hangin’ a Ralphie,

It may seem like you have entered an Alice-in-Wonderland zone, but there is an explanation for why covering two people would cost you the same as covering one person.

Under health reform, the maximum that a person (or family) will pay for health insurance is a percentage of the household income. So, for example, if you earn $31,020 and have a two-person household, you pay up to 6.3% of your income for health insurance, or about $162 per month. Government subsidies pay the rest.

When you selected covering two people, you hit the maximum $162 per month. When you selected covering one person, you still hit the maximum $162 per month. (It’s a safe guess that health insurance for one 62-year-old woman costs more than $162 per month.)   The difference between a one-person and a two-person plan is in how much the government subsidy would be on your family’s behalf; the amount you pay would not change.

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.