Tax season is upon us, you may have questions regarding Affordable Care Act and how it impacts our community. Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions:
Are there specific tax penalty exemptions available for American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs)?
There are two exemptions from the tax penalty for not having health insurance available to AI/ANs. The “Indian exemption” is available to members of Federally-recognized tribes, including shareholders of Alaska Native village or regional corporations. The other exemption (which is sometimes referred to as a “hardship” exemption) is available to individuals who are eligible for services from Indian health care providers. There are two routes to apply for the Indian-specific exemptions from the tax penalty:
- Application filed with Marketplace: Individuals may apply to a Marketplace at any time during the year using a paper application. If approved, the applicant is provided an Exemption Certificate Number (ECN).
- Federal income tax filing process: An individual may claim an exemption from the tax penalty directly during the federal income tax filing process without needing to apply for an exemption through a Marketplace. For the 2014 coverage year, the federal income tax filing period begins on January 1, 2015 and continues through April 15, 2015, or later if a filing extension is requested.
Do all Indian Health Service patients have to enroll in the state or federal Health Insurance Marketplaces and buy insurance?
No. If individuals are already covered by private insurance that meets the definition of minimal essential coverage through their job or family or through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or other types of health coverage, they don't have to enroll in the Marketplace since they have met the shared responsibility requirement to maintain insurance coverage.
IHS-eligible patients who do not have health coverage can keep using IHS and apply for an IHS Eligible exemption or apply for the Tribal Membership exemption for members of federally-recognized tribes in order to avoid the shared responsibility payment for not maintaining minimum essential coverage. Or they may now be eligible for Medicaid. Documentation for individuals who receive an IHS Eligible exemption is needed prior to filing their 2014 taxes. Patients who are eligible for the Tribal Membership exemption can file an exemption with their taxes or obtain this exemption beforehand through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
What is the Health Insurance Marketplace application process for American Indians and Alaska Natives?
The Marketplace offers a streamlined application process to help American Indian and Alaska Native patients understand what benefits are available and which protections may apply. Certain protections apply to enrolled members of federally-recognized tribes only. In order to determine if you qualify for the protections, you may be asked to provide additional documentation for tribal membership and household income.
By filling out one simple, user-friendly application, you will learn if you qualify for financial assistance through either:
- Advanced Premium Tax Credits to purchase coverage in the Marketplace,
- Reductions in cost-sharing that will reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket costs when you receive services using the coverage you purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace, or
- Enrollment in CHIP or Medicaid, if your state expands eligibility.
For further information and/or to apply for Health Insurance in the Marketplace, please contact the SNHS Patient Benefits Unit:
|Leigh Snow ext. 5461
||Stacy Thompson ext. 3249
|Melanie Hill at ext. 5201
||Renee Jackson ext. 3248
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