45 CFR 155.605 - Eligibility standards for exemptions.

§ 155.605 Eligibility standards for exemptions.

(a)Eligibility for an exemption through the Exchange. Except as specified in paragraph (g) of this section, the Exchange must determine an applicant eligible for and issue a certificate of exemption for any month if the Exchange determines that he or she meets the requirements for one or more of the categories of exemptions described in this section for at least one day of the month.

(b)Duration of single exemption. Except as specified in paragraphs (c)(2) and (d) of this section, the Exchange may provide a certificate of exemption only for the calendar year in which an applicant submitted an application for such exemption.

(c)Religious conscience.

(1) The Exchange must determine an applicant eligible for an exemption for any month if the applicant is a member of a recognized religious sect or division described in section 1402(g)(1) of the Code, and an adherent of established tenets or teachings of such sect or division, for such month in accordance with section 5000A(d)(2)(A) of the Code.

(2)Duration of exemption for religious conscience.

(i) The Exchange must grant the certificate of exemption specified in this paragraph to an applicant who meets the standards provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section for a month on a continuing basis, until the month after the month of the individual's 21st birthday, or until such time that an individual reports that he or she no longer meets the standards provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(ii) If the Exchange granted a certificate of exemption in this category to an applicant prior to his or her reaching the age of 21, the Exchange must send the applicant a notice upon reaching the age of 21 informing the applicant that he or she must submit a new exemption application to maintain the certificate of exemption.

(3) The Exchange must make an exemption in this category available prospectively or retrospectively.

(d)Hardship -

(1)General. The Exchange must grant a hardship exemption to an applicant eligible for an exemption for at least the month before, the month or months during which, and the month after a specific event or circumstance, if the Exchange determines that:

(i) He or she experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan;

(ii) The expense of purchasing a qualified health plan would have caused him or her to experience serious deprivation of food, shelter, clothing or other necessities; or

(iii) He or she has experienced other circumstances that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan.

(2)Lack of affordable coverage based on projected income. The Exchange must determine an applicant eligible for an exemption for a month or months during which he or she, or another individual the applicant attests will be included in the applicant's family, as defined in 26 CFR 1.36B-1(d), is unable to afford coverage in accordance with the standards specified in section 5000A(e)(1) of the Code, provided that -

(i) Eligibility for this exemption is based on projected annual household income;

(ii) An eligible employer-sponsored plan is only considered under paragraphs (d)(4)(iii) and (iv) of this section if it meets the minimum value standard described in § 156.145 of this subchapter.

(iii) For an individual who is eligible to purchase coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan, the Exchange determines the required contribution for coverage such that -

(A) An individual who uses tobacco is treated as not earning any premium incentive related to participation in a wellness program designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use that is offered by an eligible employer-sponsored plan;

(B) Wellness incentives offered by an eligible employer-sponsored plan that do not relate to tobacco use are treated as not earned;

(C) In the case of an employee who is eligible to purchase coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan sponsored by the employee's employer, the required contribution is the portion of the annual premium that the employee would pay (whether through salary reduction or otherwise) for the lowest cost self-only coverage.

(D) In the case of an individual who is eligible to purchase coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan as a member of the employee's family, as defined in 26 CFR 1.36B-1(d), the required contribution is the portion of the annual premium that the employee would pay (whether through salary reduction or otherwise) for the lowest cost family coverage that would cover the employee and all other individuals who are included in the employee's family who have not otherwise been granted an exemption through the Exchange.

(iv) For an individual who is ineligible to purchase coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan, the Exchange determines the required contribution for coverage in accordance with section 5000A(e)(1)(B)(ii) of the Code, inclusive of all members of the family, as defined in 26 CFR 1.36B-1(d), who have not otherwise been granted an exemption through the Exchange and who are not treated as eligible to purchase coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan, in accordance with paragraph (d)(4)(ii) of this section; and

(v) The applicant applies for this exemption prior to the last date on which he or she could enroll in a QHP through the Exchange for the month or months of a calendar year for which the exemption is requested.

(vi) The Exchange must make an exemption in this category available prospectively, and provide it for all remaining months in a coverage year, notwithstanding any change in an individual's circumstances.

(3)Ineligible for Medicaid based on a State's decision not to expand. The Exchange must determine an applicant eligible for an exemption for a calendar year if he or she would be determined ineligible for Medicaid for one or more months during the benefit year solely as a result of a State not implementing section 2001(a) of the Affordable Care Act.

(e)Eligibility for an exemption through the IRS. Hardship exemptions in this paragraph (e) can be claimed on a Federal income tax return without obtaining an exemption certificate number. The IRS may allow an individual to claim the hardship exemptions described in this paragraph (e) without requiring an exemption certificate number from the Exchange.

(1)Filing threshold. The IRS may allow an applicant to claim an exemption specified in HHS Guidance published September 18, 2014, entitled, “Shared Responsibility Guidance - Filing Threshold Hardship Exemption,” and in IRS Notice 2014-76, section B (see https://www.cms.gov/cciio/).

(2)Self-only coverage in an eligible employer-sponsored plan. The IRS may allow an applicant to claim an exemption specified in HHS Guidance published November 21, 2014, entitled, “Guidance on Hardship Exemptions for Persons Meeting Certain Criteria,” and in IRS Notice 2014-76, section A (see https://www.cms.gov/cciio/).

(3)Eligible for services through an Indian health care provider. The IRS may allow an applicant to claim the exemption specified in HHS Guidance published September 18, 2014, entitled, “Shared Responsibility Guidance - Exemption for Individuals Eligible for Services through an Indian Health Care Provider,” and in IRS Notice 2014-76, section E (see https://www.cms.gov/cciio/).

(4)Ineligible for Medicaid based on a State's decision not to expand. The IRS may allow an applicant to claim the exemption specified in HHS Guidance published November 21, 2014, entitled, “Guidance on Hardship Exemptions for Persons Meeting Certain Criteria,” and in IRS Notice 2014-76, section F (see https://www.cms.gov/cciio/).

[ 78 FR 39523, July 1, 2013, as amended at 79 FR 30349, May 27, 2014; 80 FR 10868, Feb. 27, 2015; 81 FR 12345, Mar. 8, 2016]