The IRS is reminding everyone that there are important decisions to make concerning health care coverage in 2014. Beginning in 2014, you must choose either basic health insurance coverage (known as minimum essential coverage) for yourself and everyone in your family for each month; or go without health care coverage for some or all of the year.
If you don’t maintain health insurance coverage, you will need to either seek an exemption or make an individual shared responsibility payment for the period that you are not covered with the 2014 income tax return you file in 2015 with the IRS.
If you choose to have health care coverage, qualifying coverage includes:
- Health insurance coverage provided by your employer (including COBRA and retiree coverage);
- Health insurance coverage you purchase through a Marketplace;
- Medicare, Medicaid or other government-sponsored health coverage including programs for veterans; or
- Coverage purchased directly from an insurance company.
If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for financial assistance, including the premium tax credit, which will help lower the out-of-pocket cost of your monthly insurance premiums.
Qualifying coverage does not include certain coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage for a specific disease or condition.
If you choose to go without coverage or experience a gap in coverage, you may qualify for an exemption if:
- You do not have access to affordable coverage;
- You have a gap of less than three consecutive months without coverage; or
- You qualify for one of several other exemptions.
- A special hardship exemption applies to individuals who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace during the initial enrollment period but due to the enrollment process, have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.
If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return to the IRS. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your household income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:
- One percent of your household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status; or
- Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.
The individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. You will make the payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.