As many people enrolled in Covered California have found out, the folks at Covered California will not talk about taxes. Most consumers have also learned the dirty little secret about the federal and state subsidies for health insurance; it’s all about your tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California Franchises Tax Board (FTB) don’t care how you estimated your income to Covered California to become eligible for the monthly subsidies. They only care about the final income number (MAGI) that entitles you to a subsidy.
Posts related to calculating the Premium Tax Credit received through Covered California, subsidy, form 8962, MAGI household income.
From my perspective, universal basic monthly income is already happening. Covered California gets money from the federal government and then sends it to the health plans. Whether the average amount is $424 or the real-world case of $2,094 per month, the Covered California subsidy is a real dollar amount that helps thousands of families in California. Perhaps Yang and Harris should study how the ACA and Covered California work and not tout their proposals has new or groundbreaking. The federal government is already paying out money on behalf of millions of health insurance consumers to make the monthly premiums affordable, which frees up money to pay all the other bills.
The 1095-A is almost as important as filing taxes. Even if you did not owe taxes in 2017, but still received the APTC, you have to file a tax return. Covered California has been notified by the IRS if a current household, receiving the subsidy, has not filed a 2017 tax return. Covered California is sending out letters to consumers that their current monthly APTC subsidy will be terminated if they do not resolve the issue.
On the old 1040 tax forms you report any repayment of excess Premium Tax Credit on line 46, and any additional PTC owed to you on line 69. For 2018, repayment of the PTC subsidy is reported on Schedule 2 Tax (line 46) and additional subsidy tax credit is listed on Schedule 5 (line 70) Other Payments and Refundable Credits. It’s important to know where to find these numbers if you are trying to forecast for the next year and are using the past figures as a guide.
Basically, the redesigned 2018 form 1040 has made it more difficult to quickly locate all the necessary information for estimating a household’s MAGI. Virtually all of the dollar amounts were listed on the first page of the old form 1040. Now Covered California participants will have to review page 2 of the 1040 and Schedule 1 income and deductions to get most of the information for their estimated MAGI.
Even though the Covered California programs indicated one subsidy amount, a higher amount was actually applied to the first family member’s health insurance premium. It is clear from the displays that Covered California is applying too much APTC. In the first illustration, John was eligible for $272.12 per month, but Covered California applied $377.12.
For the family of a small business owner, the reduction of the MAGI because of the 20% deduction could drop any dependents under 18 years old into Medi-Cal. A family of four earning $70,000 makes all the household members eligible the tax credit subsidy through Covered California. If the family reduces their income by the 20% deduction, the new income is $56,000. That is below 266% of the federal poverty level for a family of four and all dependents 18 and younger are then deemed eligible for Medi-Cal.
While it may seem like Covered California is big brother looking over your shoulder or studying your tax return in a darken closet with the flash light, they aren’t. They are able to let their computer software check discreet pieces of data that relate to your eligibility for health insurance and any premium tax credit. But no one Covered California is making any decisions on eligibility or tax credits for the past, present, or future, based on reviewing your tax return. They just don’t have access to it.
If you own a small business or receive income for a service you provide, and most likely file a schedule C with your tax return, you should consider having your estimated taxable income reviewed by your tax planner. The IRS has noted that as they develop guidance for all of the changes to the tax regulations for 2018 they will be posting them on their website.
The real looming threat is the loss of health plans participating in the IFP market. In 2017 three carriers dominated the market with 72% of the enrollments: Anthem Blue Cross 19%, Blue Shield 25%, Kaiser 28%. With the loss of Blue Cross in the major metropolitan markets such as the Bay Area and Southern California, two carriers, Blue Shield and Kaiser, are likely to command over 60% of the market place in 2018. If one of those two carriers determines that offering IFP plans is just too risky in 2018, it could lead to other carriers such as Health Net, Molina, or Oscar also pulling out of the market.