Question: Our daughter is married to a Mexican citizen. They live in Mexico, and they are raising their daughter in Mexico. Does she need to purchase insurance? She uses our mailing address for US related mail. She does not earn enough to file a tax return.

-Peter

Answer: Dear Peter,

The IRS, which administers the mandate for maintaining health insurance, has determined that the penalty for noncompliance will not be assessed against American citizens who are not physically present in the United States for at least 330 days of the year. If your daughter spends that much time in Mexico each year, she does not need to purchase health insurance. Her low income might also exempt her from the mandate based on financial hardship, however the IRS would consider the entire household income, both her earnings and those of her husband, in determining whether the exemption would apply. More information on the mandate and exemptions is available on the IRS website.

Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. is a professor of law at the Drexel University School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at Drexel University. Rob and the expert panel of The Field Clinic blog are available to respond to your questions on health care.