FAQ's Answered by the Pros
What does the Affordable Healthcare Act say about divorcing families?
A. If you lose your health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. When negotiating which children each parent will get the deductions for remember that now they will also be responsible for the child's health coverage and must prove it for the IRS. Losing coverage through a divorce is considered a qualifying life event that allows you to enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period. If one parent has health coverage on the children, the proof should be made available to the parent claiming the children as a deduction as soon as possible. The parent expecting a refund should not have to wait to file, as this is in the best interest of the children and the refund can be used for their care or household operating costs.
Who pays the penalty to the IRS because the children were not covered for health insurance last year and we are divorced?
A. Any penalties or overlapping issues that have financial penalties should be part of the divorce negotiations. A good attorney knows to look for these potential liabilities and will have them listed in the divorce papers. They are part of the discovery of total assets and liabilities, just as any IRS taxes owed or potential tax liabilities. It is important to have the children covered for every day of the year. Who would pay if one of the children were injured or sick? Healthcare is a major issue and can be a landmine for families separating into two households.
When we were married the children did not qualify for assistance and medical coverage -but now they may. How can I find out?
A. New York has rolled the Child Health Plus program into the Affordable Care Act open marketplace options. Medicaid for children is also now in the marketplace. You must go online or seek help to go online at a social service location to find out what healthcare that meets legal guidelines will cost for the children -everything is in one place online now. Sometimes this is less expensive than employer add-on plans for family so it pays to shop for all your options. Even those that have employer offered plans sometimes find that the marketplace plans are less expensive than private insurance for working parents.
The court has ordered us to get health coverage for the children since a parent lost a job and the employer sponsored insurance. Where do we go?
A. All health coverage options through the public New York State marketplace are online and you can access it there. Your public library or social services office can help you get online for this purpose. There are also private insurers that have agents regularly at some government offices and even at food banks and free meal services. In Chautauqua County, the offices of Chautauqua Opportunities can direct families that need health coverage to several options when you call.
My ex-spouse moved out of state and now the children have no health coverage through the employer. Do I have to make the C.O.B.R.A payments?
A. The Affordable Care Act mandated a health care marketplace in each state that can have you and the children covered immediately, if you sign up online. C.O.B.R.A. coverage is usually expensive and generally used by those with a pre-existing condition that was preventing them from other coverage. That is no longer the case because pre-existing condition clauses are no longer allowed as a way to exclude the sick from coverage. Even if you or the children have an illness, you can get coverage. Shop online or have someone help you shop for a plan today. Pay close attention to when the policy takes effect, and how long you will wait before you can use it. The medical cards usually come in the USPS mail -so watch for and do not lose them. If you don't receive a card for over 30 days check into the reason.
How do I get the Insurance Marketplace provider to change my payment for health insurance since we got divorced and I am supporting the children?
A. Report all changes in circumstances to the IRS through your Marketplace health insurance provider. You may be eligible for a Tax Credit in the current year to help with health care costs. Report changes in marital status, a name change, change in income or family size. This insures you get the right type and amount of financial assistance and avoids getting too much or too little credit in advance. Immediately report a change in address.
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