ACA, MLB, and Spring Training (Part 2 of 2)
In yesterday’s missive, I focused on the age and health status similarities between MLB players and the uninsured. As we conclude this series, I wanted to turn to another intriguing commonality between MLB and Americans without coverage: the proportion of foreign-born.
Slightly more than 28% of players in the Majors were born outside of the United States. As a fascinating coincidence, roughly the same proportion of uninsured adults age 20 to 40 (the age range of MLB players) is foreign-born. To be clear, many of these individuals may be U.S. citizens (as children of citizens or by naturalization) – but we thought that this it may be worth a moment to look at the ACA issues specific to noncitizens.
Unlike MLB players, many noncitizens don’t earn the League average of $3.39 million per year. Indeed, noncitizens in general are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as either their native-born or naturalized citizen counterparts. Partly for income reasons, noncitizens age 20 to 40 are also more than twice as likely to be uninsured; indeed, about one-half of noncitizens in this age group may not have coverage.
So, can the ACA help? In many instances, yes. Noncitizens who lawfully reside in the U.S. may qualify for the tax credits provided that they meet the income and other criteria. They may also be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, depending on whether they also satisfy the definition of a “qualified alien” and have been in the U.S. for a requisite amount of time – though the rules here vary by state. Moreover, any children born in the U.S. would be eligible for the ACA’s insurance affordability programs as citizens. Just to keep it interesting, pregnant women (regardless of citizenship status) may be eligible for CHIP coverage depending on their state of residence – and otherwise-eligible immigrants needing emergency services may get limited benefit Medicaid even if they are not “qualified aliens” within the meaning of the rules.
But what about the penalty? Both lawfully present noncitizens and citizens may qualify for certain exemptions to the penalty if they do not obtain minimum essential coverage. Here’s an interesting additional point: noncitizens may also qualify for a special exemption if they are not lawfully present in the U.S. They will simply claim this exemption on their tax form. The IRS will be issuing guidance later this year about how this will work; stay tuned!
Got all of that? It’s entirely understandable if you didn’t it follow completely. The ACA can be quite complex. The key point is that uninsured noncitizens may well be eligible for the ACA’s insurance affordability programs. And if they are not eligible for such help, they may certainly qualify for an exemption to the penalty for being uninsured. Either way, Jackson Hewitt® can help citizens and noncitizens alike sort out the ACA. While baseball may be your pastime, taxes and the ACA are ours. Play ball!
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