Understanding The Obama Care Individual Shared Responsibility Payments?
Beginning in 2014, the individual shared responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act kicked in requireing each individual to:
- Maintain a minimum level of health care coverage – known as minimum essential coverage, or
- Qualify for an exemption, or
- Make an individual shared responsibility payment when filing their federal income tax returns.
Minimum essential coverage generally includes government-sponsored programs, employer-provided health coverage, and coverage purchased in the individual market, including the Health Insurance Marketplace. Most people already have health insurance coverage that qualifies as minimum essential coverage, and therefore will not need to make a payment if they maintain their qualified coverage. However, for each month that you or a member of your family is without minimum essential coverage and does not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment.
If you and your dependents had minimum essential coverage for each month of 2014, you will check a box indicating that when you file your 2014 federal income tax return. If you qualify for an exemption, you will attach a form to your tax return to claim that exemption. If you are required to make the individual shared responsibility payment, you will calculate your payment and make the payment with your return.
If you choose to make an individual shared responsibility payment instead of maintaining minimum essential coverage, this means you will not have health insurance coverage to help pay for medical expenses.
In general, the individual shared responsibility payment for 2014 is the greater of:
- One percent of your household income above the income filing threshold for your tax filing status, or
- A flat dollar amount of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child (under age 18) in your family, but no more than $285 per family.
The individual shared responsibility payment is also capped at the cost of the national average premium for bronze level health plans available through the Marketplace that would cover everyone in your family who does not have minimum essential coverage and does not qualify for an exemption – for example, $12,240 for a family of five. However this maximum fee will only impact the small number of high-income taxpayers who choose to go without health insurance. The payment amount is based on each individual’s personal circumstances, and information about figuring the payment can be found on our ‘Calculating the Payment’ page on IRS.gov/aca.
Example of Payment Calculation
Eduardo and Julia are married and have two children under age 18. No family member has minimum essential coverage for any month during 2014, and no family member qualifies for an exemption. For 2014, their household income is $70,000 and their tax return filing threshold amount is $20,300.
Using the household income formula: Subtract the tax return filing threshold amount for 2014 from the 2014 household income, then multiply the answer by one percent (0.01).
$70,000 – $20,300 = $49,700
One percent of $49,700 equals $497.00.
Using the flat dollar amount formula: Add $95 per adult for Eduardo and Julia to $47.50 per child – for their two children.
$95.00 + $95.00 + $47.50 + $47.50 = $285.00
Eduardo and Julia’s shared responsibility payment for the year for 2014 is $497. That’s because the household income formula amount of $497 is greater than flat dollar formula amount of $285, and it is less than the $9,792 annual national average premium for bronze level coverage for a family of four in 2014. More examples can be found on IRS.gov/aca.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the Federal government, State governments, insurers, employers, and individuals share the responsibility for health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. Many people already have qualifying health insurance coverage (called minimum essential coverage) and does not need to do anything more than maintain that coverage.
The individual shared responsibility provision requires you and each member of your family to either:
- Have minimum essential coverage, or
- Have an exemption from the responsibility to have minimum essential coverage, or
- Make a shared responsibility payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.
You will report minimum essential coverage, report exemptions, or make any individual shared responsibility payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.
Minimum Essential Coverage
If you and your family need to acquire minimum essential coverage, you may have several options. They include:
- Health insurance coverage provided by your employer,
- Health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace in the area where you live, where you may qualify for financial assistance,
- Coverage provided under a government-sponsored program for which you are eligible (including Medicare, Medicaid, and health care programs for veterans),
- Health insurance purchased directly from an insurance company, and
- Other health insurance coverage that is recognized by the Department of Health & Human Services as minimum essential coverage.
U.S. citizens who are residents of a foreign country for an entire year, and residents of U.S. territories, are deemed to have minimum essential coverage.
For purposes of the individual shared responsibility payment, you are considered to have minimum essential coverage for the entire month as long as you have minimum essential coverage for at least one day during that month. For example, if you start a new job on June 26 and are covered under your employer’s health coverage starting on that day, you’re treated as having coverage for the entire month of June. Similarly, if you’re eligible for an exemption for any one day of a month, you’re treated as exempt for the entire month.
For more information about minimum essential coverage, check this minimum essential coverage chart
You can learn more at HealthCare.gov about which health insurance options are available to you, how to purchase health insurance coverage, and how to get financial assistance with the cost of insurance. If you purchase health insurance through the Marketplace and you meet certain requirements, you may be eligible for a premium tax credit to help pay your premiums. Learn more about the premium tax credit. The deadline for the initial open enrollment period was March 31, 2014. You may also qualify for a special enrollment period (e.g., you move to a different address). See HealthCare.gov to learn about special enrollment periods.
In our next article we cover Exemption Under Obama Care
Find out more about the tax-related provisions of the health care law at IRS.gov/aca or simply give us a call at (562) 251-1300 we will be glad to answer your questions