My question is - should I sign up for healthcare coverage before mid May so that coverage starts in June as to avoid the penalty for 2017 though there is a chance that I may leave the US (say, in Oct 2017 if job search does not progress much)?==>>No I do not think so; Since US expats aren't generally residents of the US while living overseas, the majority of expats will be exempt from the Obamacare health insurance requirements. But in order to be exempt you must prove residency in another country through one of two tests: The Bona Fide Residence Test- To qualify through this test you must have been living abroad for at least 1 year and have no immediate plans to return to the US; The Physical Presence Test- you will qualify for this test, as you simply need to have foreign earned income and be physically out of the US for 330 days out of a 365 day period. So, Once you qualify for foreign residency, you are said to have the ?minimum essential coverage' and are not required to purchase any additional coverage.however, you are an expat on a short-term assignment and do not qualify for exemption through one of the residency tests, you will need to comply with Obamacare regulations as a US resident.
My concern is if I get coverage (probably Medicaid in an expanded Medicaid state as I currently do not have income) to start in June and then later leave the US, can I still claim foreign domicile for the entire year (i.e. coverage exemption) as if my domicile has not changed anytime during the year (I have established foreign domicile since I have lived overseas for years)?====>I guess yea you can claim foreign domicile aslongas you meet either SPT or bona fide residence test.
In another scenario - if I do not get coverage but ended up started working in the US (say, 1 Sep 2017), then would I have a coverage gap in this case since I physically arrived in the US in Mar? Or could I claim foreign domicile ends right before work starts (e.g. 31 Aug 2017) without leaving the country?==>>Corrrect; you would have a coverage gap since you physically arrived in the US in Mar. The definition of ?living abroad? is clear; nomads are limited to visiting the US for no more than 35 days every 12-months, else you are required to purchase minimum essential care insurance policies on a Health Exchange.you are an expat on a short-term assignment and do not qualify for exemption through one of the residency tests, you will need to comply with Obamacare regulations you can directly contact healthcare.gov far more info in detail