Exemptions & catastrophic coverage

You no longer need to either make a shared responsibility payment or file Form 8965 if you didn't have minimum essential health care coverage. (The payment is sometimes known as the health care “mandate” or “penalty.”) If you don’t have coverage after 2019, you don’t need an exemption to avoid the penalty.

If you’re 30 or older and want to enroll in a “Catastrophic” plan, you must claim a hardship exemption to qualify. A Catastrophic health plan offers lower-priced coverage that mainly protects you from high medical costs if you get seriously hurt or injured. Learn more about Catastrophic plans.

Catastrophic plans & hardship exemptions

  • If you’re under 30, you can enroll in a Catastrophic plan whether you have an exemption or not.
  • If you’re 30 or older, you can enroll in a Catastrophic health plan only if you qualify for a hardship exemption (this includes affordability exemptions).
  • To enroll in a Catastrophic plan if you’re 30 or older, you must submit a hardship or affordability exemption application and get an exemption certificate number.
  • You’ll find out the Catastrophic plans available to you when you apply online at HealthCare.gov or with the help of a Call Center representative.

Need a hardship exemption form?

Get instructions for downloading the hardship exemption form and a link to the form itself.

How long hardship exemptions last

Hardship exemptions usually cover the month before the hardship, the months of the hardship, and the month after the hardship.

But in some cases the Marketplace may provide the exemption for additional months, up to a full calendar year.

  • For people ineligible for Medicaid only because a state hasn’t expanded Medicaid coverage, the hardship exemption will be granted for the whole calendar year.
  • For people eligible for Indian Health Services, the hardship exemption lasts as long as you remain eligible.
  • For people under 21 who are eligible for an exemption due to religious conscience, you’ll need to reapply if you remain a member when you turn 21.

See all hardship exemptions and get the application form.

Exemptions if you’re unemployed

  • There’s no hardship exemption based only on employment status. But several health coverage exemptions apply to people with no or little income.