Fortunately, for most California taxpayers, the amount of the California premium assistance subsidy (CPAS) they received was relatively small. For some Covered California households who received large monthly amounts of the CPAS, the repayment could significantly add to their California income tax liability for 2021.
Tom received unemployment insurance in 2021. Because of the unemployment insurance, Tom’s household income is 133 percent of the federal poverty level, regardless of his income. That 133 percent of the federal poverty level translates into $0 annual contribution for the second lowest cost Silver plan. Since the second lowest cost Silver plan premiums equaled $15,000 for the year that amount becomes the maximum subsidy allowed. Tom is eligible for an additional $2,318.40 ($15,000 – $12,681.40) in Premium Tax Credit because of the unemployment insurance benefit.
Covered California will begin processing the extra subsidy increase for applications that indicate unemployment benefits on June 21, 2021. The unemployment insurance benefit could have been for just one week in January. The household income will be taken down to 138.1 percent of the federal poverty level, regardless of the income estimated by the consumer. The 138.1 percent income level will prevent adults from being automatically determined eligible for Medi-Cal. The new subsidy will be based on the lower income and applied to the health insurance premium.
The household contribution percentages progressively increase until they reach 8.5 percent when the Modified Adjusted Gross Income is at 400 percent of the FPL. There is no cap on the household income in order to receive the federal Premium Tax Credit subsidy. As long as the Second Lowest Cost Silver Plan exceeds 8.5 percent of the household income, there will be a subsidy to lower the cost.
For example, if the annual cost of the SLCSP is $6,200 and 8.5 percent of your household income is $5,000, then the subsidy is $1,200. When divided by twelve months, that would be $100 per month to lower the cost of any health plan offered to you through Covered California. If 8.5 percent of your household income $7,000, and the SLCSP is $6,200, there is no subsidy.
Individuals and families may be eligible for a temporary increase in premium tax credits for this year, with no one paying more than 8.5% of their household income towards the cost of the benchmark plan or a less expensive plan. Meaning, many consumers will be eligible for higher tax credit amounts to help cover their Marketplace health plan premiums.
The 56-year-old San Mateo County resident purchased health insurance through Covered California in 2020 and 2021. The estimated income was $45,000. In 2020, after the Covered California subsidy, the individual paid $109.98 per month for the Kaiser Silver 70 plan. In 2021, the Kaiser Silver plan jumped to $285.71, a 160 percent increase over the prior year.
In scenario III, the income situation is reversed. The couple estimated a MAGI of $25,000, but ended up with a final MAGI of $55,000. However, they don’t have to repay all of the $4,375 excess federal Premium Tax Credit they received from the federal government because there is a repayment limitation. In their case, they only have to repay $2,700. The higher income puts the couple into the California subsidy income zone and they get to claim a $376 tax credit on their California income tax return.
The starting point for the subsidy calculation is also the end point for reconciling the subsidy on the California 540 income tax return. First, your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is converted into a percentage of the federal poverty level (FPL), which varies by household size. That FPL percentage is then matched to the Applicable Figure. The Applicable Figure is itself a percentage, the percentage of the household’s fair share or consumer responsibility for health insurance. It is a sliding scale with income closer to the FPL being responsible for less of the health insurance premium.
The Shop and Compare Tool calculated the subsidized rates for each Silver 70 health plan for 2021. When compared to 2020, the monthly health insurance premium for the 55-year-old individual increased between 25 and 160 percent. Kaiser, the least expensive Silver plan, had the largest dollar increase of $175 per month. Without the Oscar expansion, the Blue Shield HMO Silver 70 would have been the SLCSP, but the much less expensive Oscar Silver plan came in second, $139 lower after the subsidy.