ACA Open Enrollment: If You Are Low-Income…
If You Are Low-Income…
You can learn about your options by filling out a single application. It will tell you whether you qualify for coverage through the Medicaid program or for financial assistance to help pay for private insurance offered through your state’s marketplace. You can apply for coverage even if you have been unable to get it in the past.
STATES WITH MEDICAID EXPANSION
Under the Affordable Care Act, 34 states and Washington, D.C., expanded Medicaid eligibility to many low-income adults, including adults without dependent children. Three other states (Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah) will vote by ballot initiative on the Medicaid expansion this November, while 14 other states have chosen not to expand Medicaid under the law. In states that expanded Medicaid, you may qualify for Medicaid if you earn $16,753 a year as a single individual or $28,676 for a family of three, while other family sizes can qualify at higher incomes. In states that did not expand, non-disabled adults who are parents with very low income will qualify (the eligibility levels vary by state). Regardless of your state’s decision on expanding Medicaid, children are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if their family income is about $40,000 (for a family of three), or more in some states. If you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid and you cannot find affordable coverage, you could be exempt from paying a penalty for not having coverage.
STATE INSURANCE MARKETPLACES
Whether or not your state expanded Medicaid, you may be eligible for federal assistance when you buy a health plan through your state’s marketplace. This assistance could lower the premiums you pay and reduce how much money you must pay out of your own pocket when you seek medical care. Although premiums for marketplace plans are increasing significantly in many states, if you qualify for premium tax credits, the tax credit should cover most or nearly all of the cost increase. In general, you may be eligible for tax credits to lower your premium if you are single and your annual 2019 income is between $12,140 to $48,560 or if your household income is between $20,780 to $83,120 for a family of three (the lower income limits are higher in states that expanded Medicaid). The range differs for families of different sizes. If you buy a plan through the marketplace and your income is between $12,140 and $30,350 for a single person ($20,780 to $51,950 for a family of three), you can also qualify for help with cost sharing. Special modified silver plans are available with lower deductibles, copays, and annual out-of-pocket limits on cost sharing.
HOW TO APPLY
You can apply for coverage during the open enrollment period that runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 in most states, including those using healthcare.gov. Coverage through a marketplace plan takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019. After Dec. 15, you may only sign up for a plan under special circumstances. Open enrollment in states that run their own marketplaces depends on the state. Seven states—California, Colorado, DC, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island—have extended open enrollment beyond Dec. 15, 2018. Check with your state marketplace for details.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you can enroll at any time, not just during open enrollment. If you have Medicaid today, you continue to have that coverage; You will receive a notice from your state’s Medicaid agency when it is time to renew your coverage.
If you have questions, you can call the federal government’s toll-free 24-hour hotline at 1-800-318-2596. To find in-person help, go to https://localhelp.healthcare.gov. Further information is available at www.healthcare.gov and at http://www.kff.org/health-reform/faq/health-reform-frequently-asked-questions/