Yes, help paying for insurance through tax credits and low-cost ConnectorCare plans is only available through the Health Connector. Even if you enroll in a plan without help paying for it through the Health Connector, if you end up qualifying for a tax credit based on your income for that year, the IRS will let you to claim the tax credit when you file your taxes at the end of the year. But the tax credit is not available for someone who buys a plan outside of the Health Connector. You can also apply through the Health Connector website to see if you qualify for MassHealth coverage.
Eligibility for help paying for insurance is no longer determined by your gross (total) income. Under national health reform, Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is now used instead. Under MAGI you can factor in business expenses that you write off for tax purposes (your Schedule C losses) when calculating your income. This means that many more people may qualify for help who might not have been able to get it in the past. Most people can look at their adjusted gross income (line 8b on their Form 1040 income tax return) to see what their MAGI number will most likely be. This is an important change to understand for those who are self-employed or have combination income sources that include self-employment income.