The cost of a family policy, then, doesn’t say anything about whether a worker would be eligible for federal subsidies. The important number is how much it would cost Ricchuiti, or others, to buy an individual plan. If that number is more than 9.5 percent of household income, then it would likely mean eligibility for tax credits on the exchange.
This gets to the second part of Ricchuiti’s question: If he is eligible for tax credits, “can I only access them if I sign up for a health exchange plan?” This, fortunately, is a much simpler question to answer: Yes, the tax credits must be used on the new, government-run marketplaces.
The family subsidy eligiblity situation can be complicated but in general, if the primary breadwinner is covered by a group plan, the odds of subsidy eligiblity decrease.