BREAKING NEWS: Survivors of Domestic Violence may enroll at healthcare.gov at ANY TIME
As of April 29, 2015, survivors of domestic violence may apply for health insurance through healthcare.gov at ANY TIME. They do not need to wait for Open Enrollment. They qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) because they are survivors of domestic violence.
This important policy was released on May 6, 2015 by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) in their weekly “assister newsletter” that gives guidance on ACA enrollment to Navigators and in-person assisters. This is formal CCIIO guidance—but the language has not yet been updated on healthcare.gov. The update should happen soon—but the policy is already in place.
To enroll, these consumers should call the Marketplace Call Center and share that they were a “survivor of DV”. It is important to use the phrase “survivor of DV” as it will help the Call Center initiate the appropriate process. The Call Center representative will be able to grant a SEP.
The SEP allowed consumers 60 days to pick a plan and get enrolled. Note that this policy applies to the federal Marketplace (healthcare.gov); some state-based Marketplaces also follow this policy (check with your state).
To get a SEP, consumers should:
- Call the Call Center at 1-800-318-2596
- Explain the situation by stating “I am a survivor of DV. I want a Special Enrollment to apply for health care.”
- The Call Center will grant a SEP and then consumers will have 60 days to pick and enroll in a plan.
Some survivors of domestic violence may qualify for significant financial help for the purchase of health insurance. The application will ask for information about income in order to determine what type of financial help will be available.
The application requires all members of the family to report their income in order get a complete picture of the household’s income; when a couple is married, both people are required to report their income. But survivors of domestic violence and abandoned spouses who are legally married but who do not live with their spouse and will file taxes separately are not required to count the spouse’s income towards their household income. This means that these individuals are able to qualify for financial help based on their own salary—making needed health insurance much more affordable to these victims.
In order to do this, survivors of domestic violence who meet the criteria must mark “not married” on their healthcare.gov application. This is the only way that the online application is able to process the applications. After they have completed the application, consumers will be able to see what financial help they are eligible for based only on their income.
It is important to note that this is official IRS and HHS guidance. This is how these federal agencies have formally recommended that victims of domestic violence apply. These consumers will not face a penalty for indicating that they are not married—when they actually are married.
- Consumers MUST mark “not married” on the healthcare.gov application. This will allow the appropriate eligibility determination for financial help
- Consumers then can choose a plan that best meets their needs and enroll in the plan
No documentation is needed to prove domestic violence on the healthcare.gov application. But married survivors who get the special DV relief will need to “attest” on the next year’s tax return that the victim is unable to file taxes jointly due to domestic abuse. This means that anyone who receives financial help based on this “DV exception” will have to certify on their tax form that he or she fits the criteria—though no documentation is required.
New resource to improve access to health care for survivors!
Developed in partnership with the National Center on Mental Health and Trauma and Olga Trujillo, JD an independent consultant, nationally renowned speaker, survivor, and attorney dedicated to enhancing understanding of—and building effective responses to—violence against women and children, FUTURES developed a new health brochure for women who have survived childhood or adult violence/abuse.
Download the PDF of the survivor brochure here: http://bit.ly/1HYkyAb
Enrollment and the ACA: Benefits for survivors!
Starting on November 15, 2014, there is an exciting and extremely important opportunity for survivors of domestic violence to enroll in affordable, high quality health insurance. This “Open Enrollment” period is time limited—November 15, 2014–February 15, 2015 for health insurance coverage that begins in 2015. It’s important that people act now to apply and enroll in coverage, or to renew their existing plans.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes health insurance coverage affordable and provides a guaranteed and expanded set of benefits that women and their families need. Women who have a pre-existing condition cannot be turned away from coverage – this includes prohibiting insurance discrimination against victims of domestic violence. For women who have stayed in unhealthy relationships for fear of losing their health insurance, the ACA offers options to access affordable health care not tied to their partner. In other words, affordable and comprehensive coverage is within reach for all women.
Eligibility for Premium Tax Credit for Victims of Domestic Abuse
On March 26, 2014, the IRS issued important guidance to address a problem that had kept women who have experienced domestic violence from being able to access health insurance through the federal Insurance Marketplaces.
Federal rules required legally married women count their husbands’ income when applying for health insurance through the Marketplace–even when the woman was estranged from the spouse, living separately, or had no access to their husband’s income. This mean that women who by themselves would qualify for financial help to buy coverage were unable to get it.
The IRS has now implement policy that says that even if you are still married, you can be eligible for financial help for health insurance if: you live apart from your spouse at the time they file taxes and indicate on their taxes that they are unable to file jointly with their spouse due to domestic abuse. These women have also been given a special enrollment period to get coverage.
At this time, it is unclear what documentation will be needed, if any, to prove domestic violence. HHS will issue clarifications soon.
Click here to view the rules on the Special Enrollment Periods for women who have experienced DV.
A New Standard of Care for Victims of Violence
Puzzled by all the details in new health policy changes that benefit millions of women and girls? We’re here to help.
In February of 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations to support screening and response to intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence (DV), and designated it with a “B” grade – recommending that health plans provide the service. With this and other new coverage requirements for screening and response, addressing DV in the health setting is becoming the standard of care.
This toolkit offers health care providers and advocates for victims the tools to prepare a clinical practice to address domestic and sexual violence, including screening instruments, sample scripts for providers, patient and provider education resources. It also offers strategies for forging partnerships between health care and domestic and sexual violence programs.
Using Social Media to Increase Awareness
With new national health policy recommendations in support of screening for domestic violence, these shareable graphic ads can support your marketing for upcoming health/DV trainings or efforts, or help get the conversation started. The ten distinct graphics make the case that asking patients about abuse is good medicine and may be posted via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. The graphics link to this very toolkit, providing all of the information one needs to get started on screening patients for domestic and sexual violence.
The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence
If providers are trained on how to identify and help patients in collaboration with DV advocates, the potential for positive change is enormous.
Futures Without Violence’s National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence (HRC) has been supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration for Children and Families for over 16 years. In that time, we have created resources to help providers identify and support women and girls experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). We know that health providers and advocates have limited time to develop the tools to help integrate screening and counseling into their practice, and this toolkit provides resources that can help.