Hardships are life situations that keep you from getting health insurance. If you qualify for a hardship exemption, you don’t have to have health insurance or pay a fee for the months the exemption applies.

To claim a hardship health coverage exemption, you must fill out a paper application and mail it to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Need a hardship exemption form?

2016 hardship exemptions from the requirement to have health coverage: Forms & how to apply

If you’re still interested in exemptions for the 2015 tax year, visit our 2015 exemptions page.

Following are all health coverage exemptions based on hardships. The links below take you to a page with details about each exemption, 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 expect to claim a child as a tax dependent who’s been denied coverage for Medicaid and CHIP for 2016, 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 2016
  12. You were determined ineligible for Medicaid because your state didn’t expand eligibility for Medicaid in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act
  13. Your individual insurance plan was cancelled after June 30, 2013 and you believe other Marketplace plans are unaffordable
  14. If you experienced another hardship obtaining health insurance, use this form to apply for an exemption with the Marketplace (PDF)

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, including 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 very little income.

To find out if you may qualify for an exemption, answer a few questions and we’ll match you with exemptions you may qualify for.
Hardship exemptions and Catastrophic coverage

If you’re granted a hardship exemption, the notice includes information on Catastrophic health plans. With a hardship exemption, you can buy a Catastrophic plan no matter how old you are or what your income is.

A catastrophic 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.

To buy Catastrophic coverage with a hardship, you’ll provide your Exemption Certificate Number (ECN) to the insurance company selling the plan.

Note: If you get a hardship exemption, you don’t have to buy a Catastrophic plan. It’s just an option available to you.