So imagine this: you and your boyfriend are living together. You’re thinking of applying for health coverage under Medicaid, but you’re afraid that your combined income might be judged as being “too high” to qualify for Medicaid. That begs the question, does my boyfriend’s income count for Medicaid?
The answer to that depends on how your “household” is defined under Medicaid rules. This definition follows who’s in your household when you file for taxes. When filing for taxes, your household generally includes:
- the tax filer,
- their spouse, and
- the filer’s tax dependents.
In order for your boyfriend’s income to not count against you for Medicaid, he must not be part of your household. How do you figure that out? We’ll answer that and more in this article. Read on!
Does your boyfriend fall under the household definition for Medicaid?
Medicaid’s definition of a household follows the same criteria when you file your taxes (confusingly called modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI for short.)
Typically the household can be represented by this formula:
Tax filer + spouse + tax dependents = Household
Tax filer, spouse, tax dependents? Those terms might be making your head spin. Let’s go through each of them now:
- Tax filer: this refers to the person who is required to file their tax return. You typically have to file a tax return if you’re under 65, single and are earning more than $12,000 a year.
- Your spouse: the person who is legally married to the tax filer. Merely living together, or being in a domestic partnership that is not marriage, does not make someone your spouse!
- Filer’s tax dependents: these are people that the tax filer financially supports for the year. This means that the tax filer bears the cost of at least half of the dependent’s expenses, such as food, shelter, etc.
Two Situations Where Your Boyfriend’s Income Will Count Against You For Medicaid
Let’s talk about how the household definition will affect you.
You are not the tax filer’s spouse (or vice versa if you’re the tax filer) if you’re not legally married. Even if you live together, you’re in the clear. But there is one catch:
Situation 1: You Have A Child Together
If you have children with your boyfriend, then you will be considered a being part of the same household!
In this situation, both your income and your boyfriend’s income will be used to determine your benefits. This is because the state deems that both of you are legally responsible to look after your children.
This is based on the helpful table you can find on healthcare.gov.
Situation 2: You/your Boyfriend Is Considered A Tax Dependent
But it’s whether you’re a tax dependent that gets most people. Remember, all that’s required is for at least half of your expenses to be covered by the tax filer.
Being generous and covering your other half’s expenses can turn around and bite you. Heck, even splitting costs evenly will make you a tax dependent!
If you think about how many of your biggest expenses are shared – e.g. rent, groceries, gas, etc, you’ll see that it’s not hard to be considered a tax dependent of the other!
How To Ensure That Your Boyfriend’s Income Doesn’t Count Against You For Medicaid
So how do you/your boyfriend avoid becoming a tax dependent? Here are some tips that we’ve found, however, this is not legal advice and you should always check with your state laws first.
1. Pay For Your Expenses Separately
One way is to be very careful about what expenses are yours and what are your boyfriend’s. Then, make sure that you pay for your own things.
We know that this can be very hard, especially if you’re living together. But you have to be disciplined about this: rent and groceries are split in the middle. And each of you has to pay your own medical expenses, gas, etc.
Some people even go so far as to uphold the appearance of being roommates. We’re not sure exactly what this would entail, but perhaps you wouldn’t want to share any memberships to shops and the like.
2. Don’t Deposit Money Into Each Other’s Accounts
Don’t let your boyfriend deposit any money into your account, which might be seen as him supporting you, and vice versa.
Don’t even accept money on each other’s behalf! And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t share a bank account either.
We came across a story online where a reader had her medical benefits and Medicaid stopped suddenly, even though she had been disabled for many years. This all happened because the reader’s boyfriend had deposited money into her account.
Note: Medicaid only looks at how your household is defined in the year in which you plan to file for taxes, whether you end up filing or not. You do not need to worry about previous years.
Use this to your advantage. If you don’t want to fall into the “tax dependents” category, then you can start working on keeping your finances separate going forward and don’t worry too much about how things were in the past.
3. You’re In The Clear If You’re Below The Income Limit
Of course, you only have to worry about any of the above if you and your boyfriend earn a combined annual income of $17,000* (the most recent federal poverty level) or more. If your household income is less than that, you’d still be eligible for Medicaid.
*Note that income limits vary by state.
What counts as income? Here are some examples:
- Work salary,
- Social Security benefits,
- Veteran’s benefits,
- Pension payments,
- Investment income such as dividends or interest from bonds and stocks,
- IRA distributions,
- and estate income.
My Boyfriend Is Part Of My Household And Our Combined Income Doesn’t Allow Us To Qualify For Medicaid, Now What?
If your household income is above the limit for Medicaid, don’t fret. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010, health insurance must be made affordable to everyone.
You Might Qualify For Subsidies On A Health Insurance Plan
So, if you have a household income of between 100% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (which works out to be about to be a pretty high $68,000 a year), you can qualify for substantial “premium tax credits” to lower your premiums on a Marketplace health insurance plan.
You Get Tax Credits For Claiming Tax Dependents
Earlier we talked about how you might want to avoid being considered a “tax dependent”. However, if your health insurance premiums don’t exceed $500 a year, it might be worthwhile to list either you or your boyfriend as a tax dependent.
It gets even better if you and your boyfriend happen to have a child together. You’ll qualify for even more tax credits that can offset the premiums you’re trying to save through Medicaid.
Starting from Tax Year 2018, the Child Tax Credit gives you up to $2,000 in tax credits for each of your children that’s under 17.
As for you/your boyfriend, if you are considered a tax dependent, you’ll be eligible for the Credit for Other Dependents. This is $500 a year and applies to any dependents that don’t qualify for the Child Tax Credits.
It is possible to avoid having your boyfriend’s income count against you for Medicaid. There will be a few hoops you’ll need to jump through, but it’s definitely doable.
There are certain situations where it’ll be impossible to exclude your boyfriend’s income. Perhaps because your boyfriend supports you financially or vice versa. Or maybe you and your boyfriend have children together.
However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to enjoy cheap health insurance. The affordable care act allows you to get subsidies for healthcare if you meet certain criteria. We certainly shared the generous tax credits that the government offers in the article.
One thing we didn’t mention: if your boyfriend’s employer offers a health insurance plan, then getting on their plan can be a good way to get health coverage.
Remember – you need health insurance either way. It’s a requirement by law! You could get fined if you don’t have health insurance.
So use this article as a starting point and figure out where you fall with regards to whether you qualify for Medicaid or some other subsidies.
Have you successfully applied for Medicaid? Do you have any other ways that we could get health coverage for cheap? Share your thoughts in the comments below!