The Special Enrollment Period, Qualifying Life Events, and changes to income are VERY date sensitive. It can also be a little confusing in terms of what dates to use. If you don’t enter the correct dates, such as when income stopped or started, the application process can go sideways and you might be determined eligible for Medi-Cal. When in doubt, call your agent or the Covered California customer service line to determine the correct dates for your qualifying life event.
Household Income Levels
Posts related to eligibility for health care programs based on household income such as Covered California, Medi-Cal, Medicare usually based on federal poverty levels.
The benchmark 100% federal poverty level income for a single adult increased 3% from $12,140 in 2018 to $12,490 for 2019. The all important Covered California premium tax credit eligibility income (138% of the FPL) for a single adult increased from $16,754 for 2018 to $17,237 in 2019. This means a single adult now has to have an annual Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) of $17,237 to be eligible for Covered California if they apply for health insurance in 2019.
You must apply for the Medicare Savings Program through your local Medi-Cal county office. You apply for the Social Security Extra Help program directly with Social Security. If you are determined eligible for the Medicare Savings Program you will be considered a Dual Eligible: eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal. Your eligibility can change throughout the year based on income but is usually re-evaluated on a yearly basis. Whenever you eligibility changes, you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to change or enter into different Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plans.
The $1 increase in wages per hour between 2018 and 2019 is an 8% increase. The FPL has been increasing approximately 1% every year. But if we assume the FPL increases 2% that would put the new Medi-Cal monthly income level at $1,425. The increased minimum wage for 2019 still makes the individual working 30 hours per week ineligible for MAGI Medi-Cal.
Where a primary source of confusion starts to creep into the preliminary eligibility determination for either Medi-Cal or Covered California hinges on when the new FPL amounts are considered for eligibility. This is where the rules concerning determining eligibility are not necessarily aligned between Medi-Cal and Covered California. The rules put forth by the ACA govern how Covered California applies the FPL amounts for determining eligibility for the Premium Tax Credit subsidy, which are slightly different than Medi-Cal. The Department of Health Care Services, the agency that administers Medi-Cal, must abide by older federal rules for eligibility determinations.
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.
When your son or daughter is earning money from a job, but still living at home, it can be a bit confusing when applying for health insurance through Covered California. When do you count your child’s income for Medi-Cal or Covered California? Should your child have their own health plan? Do they file their own taxes? Are they still going to school?
Once all the income is entered in the different sections of the Covered California application, the program has a little link titled, Click here if this looks wrong. That takes you to the Adjust Project Annual Income (PAI) window. You can then type in an amount that is higher or lower than the number calculated from the income sections. Unfortunately, once you have used the PAI feature, the Covered California system won’t alert you to the override if you need to update your income in the future.
If a consumer does not like their plan or rate, they must make changes to their account and actively renew their coverage by December 15th for a plan effective date of January 1, 2019. Changes to the account and plan selection between December 16th and January 15th will have an effective date of February 1, 2019.
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.