Q: I've been hearing a lot about the online Health Insurance Marketplace. I'm on Medicare, so do I need to do anything?
A: No. Anyone with Medicare is already covered. Medicare has nothing to do with the Health Insurance Marketplace and there will be no changes to your benefits. So stay on Medicare. If you're already on Medicare, don't let anyone try to sell you a Marketplace insurance plan. It's illegal for them to do so, and you don't need it.
Q: I'm on Medicare but my spouse isn't because he's under 65. How does that affect our access to health insurance coverage?
A: Let's start with you. You're on Medicare, so you're covered. There's nothing you need to do. Your spouse, however, may want to take action.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that most people have health care insurance in 2014. If they don't, they must pay a penalty. The fee is either 1% of the person's yearly household income or $95 per person per year. (The fee will increase each year.) This is paid on the federal income tax form.
If your spouse doesn't have coverage, he or she can receive it from an employer or through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Or, he or she can buy an individual policy on his or her own – through a health insurance company that is not on the Marketplace. To use the Marketplace, your spouse must be a United States citizen or national. He or she also must live (unincarcerated) in the United States.
Does your spouse already have health insurance through an employer, or on his or her own? If so, and your spouse is happy with it, no need to do anything. But if the insurance costs too much for your spouse, he or she can look for other coverage – either on the Marketplace or on his or her own.
If your spouse buys insurance through the Marketplace, he or she might be able to receive financial help to pay for it. This is called a subsidy, in the form of a tax credit. The credit is applied to monthly premiums, so you'd both see the savings right away. To receive this help, your spouse's total household income must be under 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a family of two, that comes out to $62,040. He or she also must meet other eligibility criteria.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit www.healthcare.gov. There, you can also find information about Medicare, or visit www.medicare.gov.