NEW: What does Obamacare cost? (UPDATED 3/10/15)

[Update 3/10/15: The Administration is re-opening open enrollment for people who never signed up for an ACA policy. The start date for ACA “tax time” enrollment is March 15 (Sunday), going through April 30. Over the past season, I found that the the best way to get people in is via the Health Sherpa website ( Several Pennsylvania clients had invoices from Highmark Blue Shield in a matter of days after pumping out an application via Sherpa. They also have a great cost estimator, including for the federal Premium Tax Credit, although it may not have the exact smoker prices.]

[Update 11/14/14: Tomorrow begins the second Open Enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. As I mentioned last year, the easiest way to compare policies is through the Health Sherpa. Healthcare dot gov has improved dramatically since I last updated. However, Sherpa is still a bit quicker. You still have to sign up under the state-designated site to get the federal credit, however! For most states, the state designated the federal exchange to be the state exchange.]

[Update 11/16/13: A price-finder that has a ACA credit calculator as part of its workings is up at the Health Sherpa .]

[Update 9/20/13: California’s nice calculator is now cluttered up by the fact that they are actually quoting prices of California policies! So I give the role of best calculator to the runner-up: Kaiser Family Foundation.]

One easy way to find out is to rely on California’s new app, found at the site,

As of June 2013, no one in most other states is being quoted solid prices for 2014 policies. But we all CAN figure out what the federal credit will be, to determine our “net” cost. (This is the cost of the policy after the Affordable Care Act credit.)

This credit is generally available to people who buy health care through the new Health Care Exchanges, and whose “MAGI” (modified adjusted gross income) is under 400% of the federal poverty level for their family size.

Even though the actual prices of policies won’t matter much for people who are not residents of California, the “net” price will be the same if you live in states outside of California. (Maybe Alaska and Hawaii will have different poverty levels, so I should say “48 contiguous states!”)

Thanks California, for showing the way!


10 Replies to “NEW: What does Obamacare cost? (UPDATED 3/10/15)”

  1. Hi Hoofin’

    I’m a bit confused about the mechanics of the federal tax credit subsidy and what to expect in 2014. Specifically in the case of an individual policy in a non-Medicaid expanding state, where a MAGI of 100% FPL is needed to get on the exchange and qualify for a federal subsidy, what would the tax and healthcare cost calculations look like? My assumption is that there will be an extra line on Form 1040 in the Tax and Credits section where you would take the amt. of subsidy and subtract it from Taxable Income?

    To help make any explanation you’re kind enough to give more concrete I’m including these 2014 reality-based estimations:

    a) FPL, $12K,

    b) earnings, $9K, but AGI/MAGI, $12K after a $3K IRA distribution,

    c) std. deduction plus exemption, $10K,

    d) Silver plan, $8K, yields $7,700 subsidy for individual, age 60, w/ $12K MAGI.

    Here’s what I figured: Taxable Income of $2K ($12K – $10K) would be adjusted for the $7,700 subsidy, resulting in taxable income of( -$5,700) and $0 federal tax.

    Am I on the right track?

    [If so then there are $5,700 more in IRA distributions that could be taken without tax consequence. However, at some point by increasing income the subsidy would be less which indicates there’s some maximizing formula for MAGI that minimizes costs].

  2. Tthanks for responding. No, I meant your question answers about Obamacare. I recall there were numerouus questions about obamacare.
    Anyway, my questions, if you dont mind, is that: I am getting conflicting answers from ‘covered california’ people. Talking live with the they tell me to use my MAGI for estimated 2014 income. This was because I was employed in 2012, but in 2013, I was employed for a part of the year and now I am unemployed. I am 62.
    My wife (53) is on disability early retirement and hers is the only income of $42,000/year. She is eligible for medicare starting Dec. 2013. Therefore I am the only one in our 2 member family to go on Obamacare.
    1) Covered California website specifically says to use ‘income before taxes”. does not specify whether MAGI.
    Should I use $42,000/year income or use an estimated MAGI?

    2) Please give me a reference where in Obamacare it specifies to use MAGI or the gross income.
    Thanks for helping so many people.

  3. Hoofin, I finally have an account at the Marketplace. I still cannot view the insurance choices online but reviewed them through a Blue Cross Tn site and applied the Tax credit to determine my cost. The plans all state a deductible must be met before the insurance company begins to pay.Then, once the deductible is met I will pay a coinsurance amount until the out of pocket amount is reached. Is this correct or am I misunderstanding the plan? Thank you for your assistance. I enjoy your posts and I have learned so much from you since following your blog in March.

    1. Yes, this is how it works. The deductible are costs that you have to meet 100%. Then, once that’s reached, copayments and other “co-insurance” is your share of costs, up until the out-of-pocket cap. My one caveat is that many of the High Deductible Health insurance Plans being offered also permit something called a Health Savings Account to be set up. In those cases, people can run their deductible and copayment/co-insurance spending through that account. They would reduce MAGI income that way. (It means, they don’t deduct medical on Schedule A of the tax return. They deduct it by having the Health Savings Account.)

      There is huge potential for this to help people shoulder 25%, 30% or more of deductible costs. Not a lot of literature has been put out, though.

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