Covered California has released a form for consumers to attest that they are not in jail or incarcerated. Consumers who purchase health insurance are ineligible for the premium assistance tax credits if they are in jail or incarcerated in a prison. It’s unclear how Covered California knows if an individual is in jail or why, if they have been released, they aren’t alerted that a person has been released from custody.
Prove to Covered California you are not in jail
People started receiving notifications last year that they may not be eligible for the tax credits because Covered California had information that the applicant for health insurance was incarcerated. This was very disconcerting to some parents whose children were on their health plan. (Covered California send mother’s daughter to jail in letter.) The parents had no idea if their child had been arrested or if the notice of incarceration was in error. In addition, there was no easy way for either the individual to contest the incarceration status or notify Covered California that they weren’t in jail. Consumers may have also received a letter in March from Covered California stating they need to verify their eligibility for the premium assistance. One of the check marked boxes was if the consumer or a household member was incarcerated.
Attestation of Non Incarceration Form
Now Covered California has developed an attestation form that people can sign and submit, declaring under penalty of perjury, that they are not in jail.
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“I, ______________________, do hereby attest that I am not currently incarcerated. This means that I am not confined, after the disposition of charges, (judgement), in a jail, prison or similar penal institution or correctional facility. If I have recently been incarcerated, but since released from incarceration, I understand that I can sign and submit this form to Covered California to provide attestation that I am no longer incarcerated”
But what if the person never was incarcerated? What if the information that Covered California received was in error? By signing the “Attestation of Non Incarceration Status” it almost sounds as if the person may be admitting that they were in jail when they never were. And if Covered California can receive information that a person is incarcerated, why can’t they also update their database on the release of the individual?
No premium assistance for those in jail or prison
It is understandable that either individuals or household members who are in jail not receive the tax credits for their health insurance. A spouse or parent may not think to remove a household member who has been jailed from the Covered California enrollment system. But there are unanswered questions regarding the length of incarceration and ineligibility for the tax credits that are not addressed with this form. Is Covered California tracking the length of the incarceration? What if the jail time is for less than a month? What if the incarceration was for a several months during the year? How will the incarceration status effect the Advance Premium Tax Credits and the 1095-A?
They are watching you
Of course, there is also the “creepy factor” that a quasi-government organization like Covered California is tracking people to such great lengths. This is the downside of the Affordable Care Act; that the government knows more about us than they should and bureaucrats end up controlling access to affordable health insurance based on what may be erroneous information. Perhaps all Covered California consumers should print out this attestation form and send it in just so Covered California knows they are honest and decent people.