My husband and I are self-employed in our own business. We pay out of pocket, not through our business for our health insurance, because that tax rules do not allow our business to do this.
Our work is inconsistent, sometimes good, sometimes not. So for 2014, we had a (joint) AGI of around $57000 (which includes a deduction for $12,000 for paying for our own health insurance) which would qualify us for subsidies, because we had a less than stellar year.
We have always had health insurance, never not, but did not enroll for subsidies because we didn’t know we would have a bad year.
1st question: Can we retroactively get subsidies?
2nd question: The deduction for health insurance is what brings our AGI below into the subsidy level. Therefore, by getting a subsidy we might not qualify for the subsidy, correct? For example if we had a subsidy that paid half of that $12000, then we would deduct only $6000 and our AGI would have been $63,000.
We have health insurance for 2015 I believe at the silver lever.
Third question: can one enroll for a subsidy and not take it and, if it is in play, get the refund at the end of the year? It is such a moving target for us, what we will make each year.
If you have a Marketplace health plan you can retroactively get subsidies, if your income fluctuates consider taking only partial credits upfront or none at all, also if you get a Silver plan you can adjust cost sharing amounts throughout the year at no extra cost.
You can take credits up front by going into your account adjusting the amount of Advanced Premium Tax Credits you are getting (the exact steps may differ between HealthCare.Gov and state exchanges).
You can take credits retroactively by filing form 8962 at the end of the year.
Since tax credit eligibly is based on annual MAGI (not AGI) it is smart to take them at the end of the year in a case where you are not sure of your income.
Out of pocket cost assistance on the other hand doesn't have to be paid back and can also be adjusted at any time. So in your case a smart move would be updating your projected income with the marketplace every X months (at the times when you project your income changing based on what is and has happened). This will allow you to qualify for more, less, or no out-of-pocket assistance and will affect the amount of advanced tax credits you are eligible to take. Again, even if you are eligible for advanced credits you may simply consider taking them at the end of the year when you are sure of your MAGI for that year.
If you take credits up front, and you make too much, you may have to repay advanced tax credits on form 8962 (you'll also use this form to claim tax credits).