Hardship exemptions, forms & how to apply

Hardships are financial situations and other circumstances that keep you from getting health insurance. If you qualify for a hardship exemption, you don’t have to pay a fee for the months you were uncovered.

2018 hardship exemptions

  • Starting with plan year 2018 (for which you’ll file taxes in April 2019), you don’t have to fill out an application to get a hardship exemption. You can claim the exemption, without having to submit documentation about the hardship, on your 2018 federal tax return.
  • If you’d prefer to complete an application and submit documentation for a 2018 hardship exemption (or are applying for a 2016 or 2017 hardship exemption), you may follow the instructions below.

Need a 2018 hardship exemption form?

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

Hardship exemptions

Following are all hardship exemptions, with links to details, forms, and instructions.

  1. You were homeless
  2. You were evicted or were facing eviction or foreclosure
  3. You received a shut-off notice from a utility company
  4. You experienced domestic violence
  5. You experienced the death of a family member
  6. You experienced a fire, flood, or other natural or human-caused disaster that caused substantial damage to your property
  7. You filed for bankruptcy
  8. You had medical expenses you couldn’t pay that resulted in substantial debt
  9. You experienced unexpected increases in necessary expenses due to caring for an ill, disabled, or aging family member
  10. You claim a child as a tax dependent who’s been denied coverage for Medicaid and CHIP for 2017, and another person is required by court order to give medical support to the child. In this case you don’t have to pay the penalty for the child.
  11. As a result of an eligibility appeals decision, you’re eligible for enrollment in a qualified health plan (QHP) through the Marketplace, lower costs on your monthly premiums, or cost-sharing reductions for a time period when you weren’t enrolled in a QHP through the Marketplace in 2017
  12. You were determined ineligible for Medicaid because your state didn’t expand eligibility for Medicaid in 2018 under the Affordable Care Act
  13. The exemption for "grandfathered" individual insurance plans is no longer available for 2017 and later
  14. You had another hardship. If you experienced another hardship obtaining health insurance, use this form to describe your hardship and apply for an exemption.

2019 hardship exemptions

  • Starting with the 2019 plan year (for which you’ll file taxes in April 2020), the penalty no longer applies. (The fee is sometimes called the “Shared Responsibility Payment” or “mandate.”) If you don’t have coverage during 2019, you don’t need an exemption in order to avoid the penalty.
  • If you are 30 or older and want to buy a Catastrophic health plan, you must apply for a hardship exemption to qualify. Learn about hardship exemptions and Catastrophic plans for 2019.

Details about hardship exemptions

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.
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.