Immigrants: How the Insurance Mandate Affects You
How does health reform affect you if you're an immigrant? Must you buy health insurance? Can you get financial help from the U.S. government to help pay for insurance? Could you benefit from expanded Medicaid? It depends on your situation.
For Legal Immigrants
If you are a naturalized citizen or legally immigrated to the U.S., the health reform law applies to you. This means you may need to buy health insurance to avoid paying a penalty, unless you are exempt.
If your employer offers health insurance that meets the law’s requirements, you won’t qualify for a tax credit to help lower the cost of insurance. In most cases, your work-based coverage is likely to be your best choice.
If your employer doesn't offer insurance or if you are self-employed, you can buy insurance through your state's online Marketplace, also called an exchange. You can also contact your state’s marketplace by phone or in person.
In the online Marketplace, when you enter your income, age, and family size, you will learn if you are eligible for a tax credit. That's a type of financial help from the U.S. government that lowers your premiums or your monthly insurance costs. You may also find that you are eligible for help paying out-of-pocket costs when you go to the doctor. Some people with very low incomes may also qualify for Medicaid.
In addition to your state's Marketplace, you can also enroll in a health plan from an insurance broker certified to sell health plans both on and outside of the government-run Marketplaces. That person may be able to help you find a plan that qualifies for a subsidy.
If you didn't buy insurance for 2015, you may have to pay a penalty when you file taxes in 2016. The penalty is $325 for each adult or 2% of your income, whichever is more. There’s also a penalty of $162.50 for each child in your family who goes uninsured. You won't have to pay more than $975 per family or 2% of your income, whichever amount is greater. For not buying insurance in 2016, the penalties will be higher. Individuals will pay either 2.5% of their income or $695.