The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided guidance making it easier to claim a hardship exemption from the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for 2018.
Individuals may claim a hardship exemption on their 2018 federal income tax return without:
- Obtaining a hardship exemption certification from the Exchange
- Providing any explanation or documentation of the hardship
In past years, most individuals had to apply for the exemption and receive a certification from an Exchange to qualify.
Only certain individuals were able to claim a hardship exemption without obtaining a certification in prior years:
- Individuals with income below the tax filing threshold
- Family members whose combined cost of self-only coverage is considered unaffordable
- Individuals who are eligible for services through an Indian health care provider
- Individuals who are ineligible for Medicaid based on a state’s decision not to expand Medicaid
Under the new guidance, any individual can claim a hardship exemption without obtaining a certification. This change applies to 2018 only.
However, for all other eligible years, individuals can still apply for hardship exemptions through the Exchange, and CMS will continue to process those as normal.
No exemptions are required after 2018 because the individual mandate has been effectively repealed beginning in 2019.
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