Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Due to the exemption from the employer mandate, fire departments are not required to provide their volunteers with health insurance even if they work in excess of 30 hours a week
  • Many volunteer firefighters work separate full-time jobs and can get health insurance from their employer
  • If you are a volunteer firefighter and do not get health insurance from an outside employer, you can purchase a plan on the healthcare exchange marketplace website
  • Depending on your income, you may qualify for premium tax credits and other cost-sharing assistance
  • If you are only a volunteer firefighter and do not have an additional source of income, you may be eligible for Medicaid
  • There are some companies that provide health insurance specifically for volunteer firefighters

The United States government decided that fire departments are not required to comply with the Affordable Care Act employer mandate in regards to their volunteers even if they work more than 30 hours a week.

Most fire departments do not offer their volunteer firefighters health insurance.

The reason is that most fire departments would not be able to afford this cost and would have to disband as a department.

Fire departments are still required to offer health insurance to their full-time paid employees.

Compare health insurance options by using our free tool above.

What is the employer mandate?

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The employer mandate requires businesses with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees to offer health insurance to their full-time employees.

If a business of this size does not offer health insurance to their employees, they are required to pay a fine. The mandate does not apply to part-time employees that work less than 30 hours a week or less than 130 hours in a month.

Additionally, coverage must be offered to employee’s dependents until they turn 26. Fire departments are exempt from this mandate and do not have to pay the fine for not offering insurance to those who volunteer more than 30 hours a week.

Many volunteer firefighters have full-time jobs in addition to their volunteering. In most cases, those companies are required to offer insurance to their employees so that is a good way for volunteer firefighters to get covered.

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How can I apply for a health insurance plan through the marketplace?

If you are not getting health insurance through an employer, you may want to apply for a plan through the healthcare exchange marketplace. There are five ways to apply for marketplace insurance.

You can apply the following ways:

  • online
  • over the phone
  • by mailing in your application
  • in person with a marketplace guide or private insurance broker

You have to apply during the open enrollment period that starts in November and typically ends in early January unless you are eligible for a special enrollment period.

Is there financial assistance available?

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If your income falls between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you may be eligible for financial assistance in the form of premium tax credits and other cost sharing savings.

The number of tax credits you qualify for depends on the income you report on your marketplace application and the caps are based on the costs of a silver plan.

You can choose to get all, some, or none of your credits in advance to apply to your premium. If you choose to wait, you will get the rest as a refund when you file your federal tax returns.

What if I am only a volunteer firefighter and do not have another source of income or only have a lower income?

If you do not have a full-time job and you have a lower income, you may qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid is free or low-cost coverage. If you live in a state that expanded Medicaid, you will qualify for coverage if your income is less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

If you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid, you might still qualify with an income that is less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but there are other determining factors as well.

You do not have to wait for an open enrollment period so you can apply for Medicaid coverage at any time. You can either apply through the healthcare exchange marketplace or in person at your state Medicaid agency.

There are companies that provide insurance specifically for volunteer fireman. Provident is one example. They offer accident and health insurance benefits.

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Health Insurance for Volunteer Firefighters

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Most fire departments do not offer health insurance coverage to their volunteer firefighters. If you have a separate full-time job, you should consider enrolling in your employer-based coverage.

Otherwise, you can apply for Marketplace coverage, a private insurance plan, or Medicaid.

Compare health insurance quotes by using our free tool below.