New To myMercy? Click Here to read our "How To" guide!
To view current volunteer opportunities, Click Here!

Health Insurance/Taxes

Hey. What do Americans on the ship for a year or more do for Health Insurance since it is required by law that everyone has it? I normally shop on the Healthcare Marketplace, but I don't know whether to say I live at my old address since it won't let you enter in a foreign address. Do people use their previous address on their taxes, or say on the Africa Mercy or what? It says you are exempt from getting health insurance if you live out of the country for 330 days of the year, but I don't know yet whether I will be extending after my commitment ends in July.

Also, I don't know what to put as my income, since it is just donations, and I don't get that many donations and am paying my expenses mostly with my savings, but if that is my only income, then I'll be making way less than the poverty line, which means I don't qualify for any tax credits but I'm also exempt from being required health insurance. But if I write that I will earn just above the poverty line, then I get tax credits to cover the premiums that are now over $400+ a year for any decent plan. I'm scared though that if I do that, I might extend and would probably get way less than that amount in donations, so I would then qualify for $0 in tax credits and will owe thousands of dollars on my taxes.

Does anyone else have this dilemma or know what I should do? I've tried calling the Healthcare Marketplace before, but they never seem very bright and usually mess things up more than it was before I called them, and trying to explain that I'm living on a ship volunteering and not really a person "in poverty" just seems too difficult.


  • heatherpetersonheatherpeterson Director of Staffing Posts: 92 admin
    Katie - great question! Certainly a tricky one. We're looking into it and well get back to you ASAP with advice. 
  • John WallJohn Wall Posts: 1
    Katie - I will try to address the questions you have as best I can in a general sense. Every situation is different based on individual circumstances but here is what I can tell you. I am no tax expert but happy to share with you what I know.

    The donations you receive are treated as taxable income if you are a crew member who plans to be on board for more than 1 year. Those are guidelines established by the IRS. What you have received so far as taxable income for the current year is shown on the pay slip you receive via email from the payroll specialist. That will eventually be shown on your W2 as taxable income. It is not a choice that you have but is required to be reported this way by the IRS. I don't know how income levels play into the Affordable Care Act but you will receive a W2 from Mercy SHips at the end of the year that shows your taxable income for the year. Presumably that would be combined with any income you received from other sources prior to joining the Africa Mercy. If your plan is to be here less than one year then the donations are not treated as taxable income from Mercy Ships and you would not receive a W2 at the end of the year.

    For address purposes, I would suggest to use either the address shown on your drivers license (if that is still good) or the address where you have your mail sent. There are other crew members on board whose address is the address of the International Support Center in Texas (PO Box 2020, Lindale TX 75771-2020). (Be sure HR has the correct address so that your W2 goes to the correct place at the end of the year andyou receive it).

    The 330 day exemption is correct and would most likely apply to your situation considering how long it looks like you will be out of the country. The exemption can cross over years as you report your health care coverage by individual month when you submit your taxes. So you would have been required to have appropirate coverage before coming but then you would be exempt for the months you were out of the country. In the next tax year you would be exempt until you returned to the US. At that time you would need to purchase qualifying coverage again. You might need to file an extension of your current year tax return (2016) until you have met the 330 day requirement in 2017.

    Hope that helps and that it wasn't too much accounting speak..... I am happy to answer futher questions as necessary.

    John Wall - Finance Director, Africa Mercy
  • ElizabethScalaElizabethScala Posts: 2

    We  are looking at a 2-year service commitment. We are considering buying health coverage through the HealthCare Marketplace. Since the Africa Mercy is a US based ship, do you know if this health insurance would cover us?

    Thank you
  • heatherpetersonheatherpeterson Director of Staffing Posts: 92 admin
    Hello Elizabeth,

    Every insurance policy is different - so unless it specifically stated you have guaranteed coverage overseas, I do not think it would cover you. We do recommend Talent Trust Consultants (TTc) and a few others:

      I hope this helps! 
  • natecalimbonatecalimbo Posts: 1

    I've got my health coverage submitted to my W2 form report by my employer (Box 12), so in this case, everything is handled in advanced. Have no clue how to deal with the insurance in private

  • pastorjazpastorjaz Posts: 1

    Is medicare adequate insurance

Sign In or Register to comment.