Help with your monthly premiums
Shoppers on the new state online marketplaces may be surprised to find that most sites automatically calculate premium discounts available through Obamacare. You see instantly if you qualify for a federal subsidy to help pay your monthly health insurance bill.
You get the savings if you make up to $45,960 a year for individuals or $94,200 for a family of four (based on 2013 estimates). Your subsidy amounts to a federal income tax credit that lowers your monthly insurance premium. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average subsidy will knock $5,290 off the cost of health insurance in 2014.
Federal data will be used to verify incomes and subsidy eligibility on the 34 state exchanges operating under the federal HealthCare.gov website. The District of Columbia and 16 states operating their own marketplaces are using an honor system until 2015 while they upgrade their systems to provide real-time income verification.
Consumers shouldn't expect to score similar savings on individual plans offered outside the marketplaces, says Deborah Chollet, manager of health insurance research for Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, D.C. "If you want a lower premium because of the premium tax credit, you have to go through the marketplace," she says.