NEXT PAGE

Page 1 of 5

Reminders for 2018 Annual Reporting of Health Coverage

November 02 - Posted at 3:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , , ,

The IRS recently released final forms and instructions for the 2018 employer reporting. The good news is that the process and instructions have not changed significantly from last year. However, the IRS has started to assess penalties on the 2015 forms. For that reason, employers should make sure they complete the forms accurately.

The final 2018 forms and instructions can be found at:


Employers with self-funded plans can use the B forms to report coverage for anyone their plan covers who is not an employee at any point during the year. The due dates for 2018 are as follows:

  • Individual statement (1095 C), due to employees January 31, 2019
  • Employer transmittal (1094 C and copies of each 1095 C), due to IRS by February 28, 2019 (paper) OR April 1, 2019 (electronically)

Be sure to file these forms on time. The IRS will assess late filing penalties if you file them after they are due. The instructions explain how to apply for extensions if you think you may miss the deadlines.

The 1095 C form can be sent to employees electronically with the employee’s consent, but that consent must meet specific requirements. The consent criteria include disclosing the necessary hardware and software requirements, the right to request a paper copy, and how to withdraw consent. They are the same consent requirements that apply to the W-2.

Employers must submit the forms electronically if they file 250 or more 1095 Cs. The instructions explain how to request a waiver of the electronic filing requirement.

(more…)

ACA Repeal is on the Agenda… But Then What?

January 04 - Posted at 6:07 PM Tagged: , , , ,

President-elect Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders have announced repeatedly their intentions to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) once President Barack Obama leaves office. But how that will exactly play out has been the topic of speculation by many.

Washington watchers expect that shortly after his inauguration on Jan. 20, President Trump and GOP leaders will try to pass a measure to repeal the ACA outright. That effort, however, will assuredly face a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, which would require at least 60 votes to overcome—and Republicans have only 52 Senate votes in the new Congress.


Facing a filibuster, Republicans are likely to turn to the budget reconciliation process, in which a simple Senate majority is needed to pass measures related to federal revenues and spending, as long as those measures are budget-neutral, meaning they neither increase nor decrease overall spending or revenue. Much of the ACA was originally passed by Democrats in 2010 using reconciliation.


For the parts of the ACA that are not directly related to federal spending, such as the insurance market reforms, Republicans may start negotiating with Democrats on changing the law in ways that can attract enough senators from both parties to reach the 60-vote threshold.


Repeal Bill Is Happening


Opponents “cannot stand in the way of a repeal bill if the president goes out and says he wants it. They may be able to do some things to modify the transitional uncertainty, but it is happening,” said Randy Hardock, a partner at law firm Davis & Harman in Washington, D.C.


The taxes that the ACA imposed on employers will “go away,” he predicted. “But once they pass repeal, they won’t work on replace for two or three years, because the Democrats need to be brought to the table, and they’ll never cut a deal until the end” of the Congressional session.


Repeal and Replace Will Be Piecemeal


“I do think they’ll pass a repeal bill, but I would speculate that they’ll try to do pieces of replace along with repeal,” said Katy Spangler, senior vice president, health policy, for the American Benefits Council, a trade association based in Washington, D.C.


The repeal bill that Congress passed last January, which was vetoed by Obama, “saved a half-trillion dollars” based on the elimination of direct federal subsidies for ACA coverage, she noted. If a similar bill is passed in 2017, those funds would be available to fund an ACA alternative—perhaps along the lines of a bill previously supported by House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., Trump’s nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services. That measure would provide tax credits for people to buy insurance if they don’t have access to coverage through an employer or government program.


However, Spangler called it “a big gamble” to hope that the Senate will rule that money saved by repealing the ACA could be treated as a kind of budgetary fund that could later be used to make a replacement measure budget-neutral, when passed through the budget reconciliation process. “That’s a half-trillion-dollar gamble that [Republicans] might not be willing to take,” she said. “So maybe they do their version of the tax credits as part of that original repeal bill.”


Doing so, she suggested, “helps moderate Republicans know that you’re not just going to have 20 million people kicked off their insurance. And that gives you time to come back and get Democrats to perfect some of the market reforms and to perfect some other things to make [ACA repeal and replacement] better.”


ACA Resolution Introduced in New Congress


On Jan. 3, Republicans introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate to set up a reserve fund for future health care legislation under an ACA replacement bill, based on savings to be derived from the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.


While measures passed through the budget reconciliation process must be budget neutral, the resolution and related rules would give special protection to bills repealing or “reforming” the ACA, even if such bills cause a temporary increase in spending.


House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement, “This resolution sets the stage for repeal followed by a stable transition to a better health care system. Today we begin to deliver on our promise to the American people.”


The New York Times reported that in the week of Jan. 9, according to a likely timetable sketched out by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House will vote on a budget blueprint, which is expected to call for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Then, in the week starting Jan. 30, Walden’s committee will act on legislation to carry out what is in the blueprint. That bill would be the vehicle for repealing major provisions of the health care law.


Carolyn Smith, a benefits attorney with Alston & Bird in Washington, D.C., agreed that the Republicans’ vetoed repeal bill from last January could be “a model for what they’re thinking about now. It’s been blessed by the Senate parliamentarian, so you know that everything in there works in reconciliation. It basically got rid of pretty much all the [ACA] taxes. It got rid of the Medicaid expansion with a delayed effective date.”


Left intact, Smith pointed out, were “all of the market reforms.” But, she said, “I don’t think that insurers are going to think it’s sustainable to have none of the risk adjustment and premium subsidies,” leaving them with a number of federal mandates, including required services that their health plans must cover.


A Road Map by April


“We’re going to need a road map for individual and small group market coverage [for plan year 2018] by April at the latest, given the timelines for filing products and rates, and getting approval by states,” said Kris Haltmeyer, vice president, health policy and analysis, for the Chicago-based Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.


The insurance industry will “need to see stability and that Congress will honor the [subsidy] commitments that have already been made for 2016 and 2017 for products that have been priced and are out in the market. And we need predictability going forward to see what the pathway is for the next two to three years.”


“There are a lot of challenges if you go ahead and repeal, even with a transition, and don’t provide signals to the health insurance market about what the industry is going to look like,” said Jeanette Thornton, senior vice president at America’s Health Insurance Plans, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing the health insurance community.


She agreed with Haltmeyer that “making design changes to benefits and networks takes time” and that “plans are developing products and rates in the spring for the following year. We’ve been stressing the need to have some certainly, some rules of the road, to understand what the market is going to transition to so we can be prepared and make those changes.”


With the market reforms and consumer protections that Republicans are signaling they want to keep, “what’s it all going to look like?” Thornton wondered. “There’s no shortage of work if you work in health policy right now.”

Congress Passes 21st Century Cures Act with HRA Provisions

December 15 - Posted at 4:20 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earlier this week, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act (“Act”). This Act contains provisions for “Qualified Small Business Health Reimbursement Arrangements” (“HRA”). This new HRA would allow eligible small employers to offer a health reimbursement arrangement funded solely by the employer that would reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses including health insurance premiums. 


The maximum reimbursement that can be provided under the plan is $4,950 or $10,000 if the HRA provided for family members of the employee.  An employer is eligible to establish a small employer health reimbursement arrangement if that employer (i) is not subject to the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act (i.e., less than 50 full-time employees) and (ii) does not offer a group health plan to any employees. 


To be a qualified small employer HRA, the arrangement must be provided on the same terms to all eligible employees, although the Act allows benefits under the HRA to vary based on age and family-size variations in the price of an insurance policy in the relevant individual health insurance market.


Employers must report contributions to a reimbursement arrangement on their employees’ W-2 each year and notify each participant of the amount of benefit provided under the HRA each year at least 90 days before the beginning of each year.


This new provision also provides that employees that are covered by this HRA will not be eligible for subsidies for health insurance purchased under an exchange during the months that they are covered by the employer’s HRA. 

Such HRAs are not considered “group health plans” for most purposes under the Code, ERISA and the Public Health Service Act and are not subject to COBRA.


This new provision also overturns guidance issued by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor that stated that these arrangements violated the Affordable Care Act insurance market reforms and were subject to a penalty for providing such arrangements.  


The previous IRS and DOL guidance would still prohibit these arrangements for larger employers. The provision is effective for plan years beginning after December 31, 2016.  (There was transition relief for plans offering these benefits that ends December 31, 2016 and extends the relief given in IRS Notice 2015-17.)

Early Holiday Gift from the IRS – Due Date Extension for Furnishing Forms 1095 and Related Relief

November 21 - Posted at 1:29 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

In IRS Notice 2016-70, the IRS announced a 30-day automatic extension for the furnishing of 2016 IRS Forms 1095-B (Health Coverage) and 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage), from January 31, 2017 to March 2, 2017.  This extension was made in response to requests by employers, insurers, and other providers of health insurance coverage that additional time be provided to gather and analyze the information required to complete the Forms.  Notwithstanding the extension, the IRS encourages employers and other coverage providers to furnish the Forms as soon as possible.

Notice 2016-70 does not extend the due date for employers, insurers, and other providers of minimum essential coverage to file 2016 Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS.  The filing due date for these forms remains February 28, 2017 (March 31, 2017, if filing electronically), unless the due dates are extended pursuant to other available relief.


The IRS also indicates that, while failure to furnish and file the Forms on a timely basis may subject employers and other coverage providers to penalties, such entities should still attempt to furnish and file even after the applicable due date as the IRS will take such action into consideration when determining penalties.


Additionally, guidance provides that good faith reporting standards will apply for 2016 reporting. This means that reporting entities will not be subject to reporting penalties for incorrect or incomplete information if they can show that they have made good faith efforts to comply with the 2016 Form 1094 and 1095 information-reporting requirements. This relief applies to missing and incorrect taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, and other required return information. However, no relief is provided where there has not been a good faith effort to comply with the reporting requirements or where there has been a failure to file an information return or furnish a statement by the applicable due date (as extended).


Finally, an individual taxpayer who files his or her tax return before receiving a 2016 Form 1095-B or 1095-C, as applicable, may rely on other information received from his or her employer or coverage provider for purposes of filing his or her return. Thus, if employers take advantage of the extension in Notice 2016-70 and receive employee requests for 2016 Forms 1095-C before the extended due date, they should refer their employees to the guidance in Notice 2016-70.

IRS Adjusted ACA Fee Amounts Released for the 2015-2016 Plan Year

October 26 - Posted at 5:26 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee was established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to advance comparative clinical effectiveness research. The PCORI fee is assessed on issuers of health insurance policies and sponsors of self-insured health plans. The fees are calculated using the average number of lives covered under the policy or plan, and the applicable dollar amount for that policy or plan year. The past PCORI fees were—


  • $2 per life, for policy and plan years ending on or after October 1, 2013, and before October 1, 2014
  • $2.08 per life, for policy and plan years ending on or after October 1, 2014, and before October 1, 2015


The new adjusted PCORI fee is—

  • $2.17 per life, for policy and plan years ending on or after October 1, 2015, and before October 1, 2016


Employers and insurers will need to file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 720  and pay the updated PCORI fee by July 31, 2016


Transitional Reinsurance Fee

Like the PCORI fee, the transitional reinsurance fee was established under the ACA. It was designed to reinsure the marketplace exchanges. Contributing entities are required to make contributions towards these reinsurance payments. A “contributing entity” is defined as an insurer or third-party administrator on behalf of a self-insured group health plan. The past transitional reinsurance fees were


  • $63 per covered life for 2014
  • $44 per covered life for 2015


The new adjusted transition reinsurance fee is—

  • $27 per covered life for 2016

President Signs PACE ACT Changing Small Group Market Definition

October 09 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , ,

On October 7, 2015 President Obama signed the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act that amends the Affordable Care Act (ACA) definition of a “small employer” for the purpose of purchasing health insurance coverage.


Prior to the signing of this amendment and beginning January 1, 2016, every state was required to expand the definition of the small group market to include employers with up to 100 employees. Prior to January 1, 2016 states had the flexibility to maintain the definition of a small employer to those with up to 50 employees and most states continued to do so.


The PACE Act repeals the mandatory expansion of the small group market to employers with up to 100 employees and reverts to the prior definition of up to 50 employees, although the states maintain flexibility to define the small market as up to 100 employees if they wish.


Under the ACA, health insurance offered in the small group market must meet strict underwriting requirements and cover all essential health benefits- conditions that do not apply in the large group market. Concerns about steep price increases and loss of benefit design flexibility from many businesses with 51 – 100 employees who would be re-classified as a “small employer” prompted this bi-partisan amendment to the law.


What Happens Now?


Numerous questions surround the passage of this amendment to the ACA given the fact that the change has happened so late in 2015. Insurance carriers have already filed their small group 2016 plan rates assuming the expansion of this market space and many employers impacted by their re-classification have already secured coverage or are finalizing plans for 2016 coverage. Here are some questions that hopefully will be addressed in the near future:


  • When and how will each state determine the size of the small group market (50 or 100 employees)? Will this require state legislation or some other form of action to address this issue? Currently under Florida legislation, a small group is defined as 1-50 but it has not been determined yet if Florida will continue to use this definition or if they will transition to a 1-100 definition.
  • Will insurance carriers be able to modify small group rates as this market space may no longer expand?
  • Will employers with 51 -100 employees be able to shop for other coverage in the large group market? Will they be able to do this for January 1, 2016 or will it be possible to modify coverage at some time during 2016?
  • Will the state allow some form of transition?
  • Will each state have the flexibility to determine the methodology for calculating employer size?
  • Will the state be able to revert back to the prior method such as considering only “eligible” employees or will they need to use an ACA counting method to determine employer size?


Employers who are impacted by this ACA amendment should monitor the situation and determine what may be the best course of action for your employees.

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), introduced in 2014  the Transitional Reinsurance Fee (“Fee”) in an effort to fund reinsurance payments to health insurance issuers that cover high-risk individuals in the individual market and to stabilize insurance premiums in the market for the 2014 through 2016 years. The Fee has also been instituted to pay administrative costs related to the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.


BACKGROUND ON TRANSITIONAL REINSURANCE PROGRAM

The ACA established a transitional reinsurance program to provide payments to health insurance issuers that cover high risk individuals in an attempt to evenly spread the financial risk of issuers. The program is designed to provide issuers with greater payment stability as insurance market reforms are implemented and the state-based health insurance exchanges/marketplaces facilitate increased enrollment. It is expected that the program will reduce the uncertainty of insurance risk in the individual market by partially offsetting issuers’ risk associated with high-cost enrollees. In an effort to fund the program, the ACA created the Fee which is a temporary fee that is assessed on health insurance issuers and plan sponsors of self-funded health plans. The Fee is applicable for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 years and is deductible as an ordinary and necessary business expense.

The Fee is generally applicable to all health insurance plans providing major medical coverage including sponsors of self-insured group health plans. Major medical coverage is defined as health coverage for a broad range of services and treatments, including diagnostic and preventive services, as well as medical and surgical conditions in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room settings. Since COBRA continuation coverage generally qualifies as major medical coverage, the Fee will also apply in this instance. It does not, however, apply to employer provided major medical coverage that is secondary to Medicare.


The Fee, as currently structured, does not apply to various other types of plans including (but not limited to) health savings accounts (H.S.A.s), employee assistance plans (EAP) or wellness programs that do not provide major medical coverage, health reimbursement arrangements integrated with a group health plan (HRA), health flexible spending accounts (FSA) and coverage that consists of only excepted benefits (e.g. stand-alone dental and vision).


AMOUNT OF THE FEE

The Fee for the 2015 benefit year is equal to $44 per covered life. It is expected that the Fee for the 2015 benefit year will generate approximately $8 billion in revenue. The Fee for the 2016 year is expected to be $27 per covered life and will raise approximately $5 billion in revenue. Thereafter, the Fee is set to expire and no longer be applicable. The fee for 2014 was $63 per covered life.


REPORTING THE NUMBER OF COVERED LIVES AND PAYING THE FEE

The 2015 ACA Transitional Reinsurance Program Annual Enrollment and Contributions Submission Form will be available on www.pay.gov on October 1, 2015. The form for 2014 is also available on this website. Please note there is a separate form for each benefit year. For the 2015 year, the number of covered lives must be reported to the Department no later than November 16, 2015. The Department will then notify reporting organizations no later than December 15, 2015 the amount of the fee that will be due and payable.


As with the 2014 benefit year, the Department of Health and Human Services has given contributing entities two different options to make the payment. Under the first option, the first portion of the Fee ($33 per covered life) is due and payable no later than January 15, 2016 (30 days after issuance of the notice from the Department). This portion of the Fee will cover reinsurance payments and administrative expenses. The second portion of the Fee ($11 per covered life) will cover Treasury’s administrative costs associated with the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program and will be due no later than November 15, 2016.


Under the second payment option, contributing entities can opt to pay the full amount ($44 per covered life) by January 15, 2016.


As the number of covered lives is due to be reported no later than November 16th of this year, employers should review their types of health coverage and determine which plans are subject to the Fee. Employers that have fully insured plans should be on the lookout for potential increased premiums as the insurance carrier is responsible to report and pay the Fee on behalf of the plan in these instances. Those with self funded medical coverage need to be sure to report and pay the fe

Half of State Exchanges Struggling Financially: Future of State-run Exchanges Seems Uncertain

May 27 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

According to recent news reports, nearly half of the 17 Exchanges run by states and the District of Columbia under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are struggling financially:


Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer call centers — and tepid enrollment numbers. To ease the fiscal distress, officials are considering raising fees on insurers, sharing costs with other states and pressing state lawmakers for cash infusions. Some are weighing turning over part or all of their troubled marketplaces to the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, which now works smoothly.


Of course, many states can’t solve their financial troubles easily. As independent entities, their income depends on fees imposed on insurers, which is then often passed on to the consumer signing up for health care. However, those fees are entirely contingent on how many people enroll in that particular Exchange; low enrollment invariably means higher costs.

Low enrollment is where the trouble thickens. The recently completed open enrollment period only rose 12 percent to 2.8 million sign-ups for state Exchanges, according to The Washington Post. Comparatively, the federal Exchange saw an increase of 61 percent to 8.8 million people. 


According to the Post, state Exchanges have operating budgets between “$28 million and $32 million”. Most of the money tends to go to call centers, “Enrollment can be a lengthy process — and in several states, contractors are paid by the minute. An even bigger cost involves IT work to correct defective software that might, for example, make mistakes in calculating subsidies.”


However, The Fiscal Times contends that, “Some states may be misusing Obamacare grants in order to keep their state insurance exchanges operating—potentially flouting a provision in the law requiring them to cover the costs of the exchanges themselves starting this year.”


In fact, the ACA provided about $4.8 billion in grants to help states build and promote their Exchanges. As the article explains, before this year, states could use the grant money on overhead costs. However, a new provision that went into effect in January 2015 says that states can’t use the grants on maintenance and staffing costs; grant money must be spent on design, development and implementation costs.


The Fiscal Times spotlights California as a prime example of why state Exchanges are in troubled waters: 


One of the worst examples comes from California, where the state’s exchange has been touted the most successful in the country for enrolling thousands of people. Covered California has already used up about $1.1 billion in federal funding to get its exchange up and running and is now expected to run a nearly $80 million deficit by the end of the year, according to the Orange County Register. The state has already set aside about $200 million to cover that, but the long-term sustainability of the program is very much in question. 


In addition, state Exchanges like Hawaii might have to switch to the federal Exchange, Healthcare.gov, because of on-going financial solvency issues. “This is a contingency that is being imposed on any state-based exchange that doesn’t have a funded sustainability plan in play,” said Jeff Kissel, CEO of the Hawaii Health Connector.


According to the Post, states with the lowest enrollment are facing the biggest financial problems:


  • Both Minnesota and Vermont are so frustrated with their costly technical issues that they are considering handing over responsibilities to the state or federal government.


  • Vermont’s system costs are projected to reach almost $200 million by the end of the year.


  • Officials from Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut recently met to discuss creating a joint, regional Exchange in lieu of going to the federal Exchange.


  • Oregon officially abolished their Exchange in March, turning it over to the federal Exchange.


  • Rhode Island legislation is considering a fee on health plans that would go up  or down depending on the Exchange’s operating costs.


Turning operations over to the federal Exchange seems to be a popular alternative, but it doesn’t come without a cost: $10 million per Exchange, to be exact. 


Although there are many options for state Exchanges to consider, it is likely that they will hold off on any final decisions until after the Supreme Court decides King v. Burwell. In this case, the Chief Justices will make a ruling in June that could either send a lifeline to ACA or remove a fundamental pillar of the law by under-cutting its ability to extend health insurance coverage to millions of Americans through its subsidy program. 


The appellants in the King v. Burwell case say that IRS rule conflicts with the statutory language set forth in the ACA, which limits subsidy payments to individuals or families that enroll in the state-based Exchanges only. If the Court relies on a literal interpretation of the ACA’s language, millions of Americans who live in more than half of the states where the federal Exchange operates will not receive subsidies, thus undoing a fundamental pillar of the law. (Read more about the court case here.)

Even small employers notsubject to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) coverage mandate can’t reimburse employees for nongroup health insurance coverage purchased on a public exchange, the Internal Revenue Service confirmed. But small employers providing premium reimbursement in 2014 are being offered transition relief through mid-2015.


IRS Notice 2015-17, issued on Feb. 18, 2015, is another in a series of guidance from the IRS reminding employers that they will run afoul of the ACA if they use health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) or other employer payment plans—whether with pretax or post-tax dollars—to reimburse employees for individual policy premiums, including policies available on ACA federal or state public exchanges.


This time the warning is aimed at small employers—those with fewer than 50 full-time employees or equivalent workers. While small organizations are not subject to the ACA’s “shared responsibility” employer mandate to provide coverage or pay a penalty (aka Pay or Play), if they do provide health coverage it must meet a range of ACA coverage requirements.

“The agencies have taken the position that employer payment plans are group health plans, and thus must comply with the ACA’s market reforms,” noted Timothy Jost, J.D., a professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, in a Feb. 19 post on the Health Affairs Blog. “A group health plan must under these reforms cover at least preventive care and may not have annual dollar limits. A premium payment-only HRA or other payment arrangement that simply pays employee premiums does not comply with these requirements. An employer that offers such an arrangement, therefore, is subject to a fine of $100 per employee per day. (An HRA integrated into a group health plan that, for example, helps with covering cost-sharing is not a problem).”


Transition Relief

The notice provides transition relief for small employers that used premium payment arrangements for 2014. Small employers also will not be subject to penalties for providing payment arrangements for Jan. 1 through June 30, 2015. These employers must end their premium reimbursement plans by that time. This relief does not extend to stand-alone HRAs or other arrangements used to reimburse employees for medical expenses other than insurance premiums.


No similar relief was given for large employers (those with 50 or more full-time employees or equivalents) for the $100 per day per employee penalties. Large employers are required to self-report their violation on the IRS’s excise tax form 8928 with their quarterly filings.


“Notice 2015-17 recognizes that impermissible premium-reimbursement arrangements have been relatively common, particularly in the small-employer market,” states a benefits brief from law firm Spencer Fane. “And although the ACA created “SHOP Marketplaces” as a place for small employers to purchase affordable [group] health insurance, the notice concedes that the SHOPs have been slow to get off the ground. Hence, this transition relief.”


Subchapter S Corps.

The notice states that Subchapter S closely held corporations may pay for or reimburse individual plan premiums for employee-shareholders who own at least 2 percent of the corporation. “In this situation, the payment is included in income, but the 2-percent shareholder can deduct the premiums for tax purposes,” Jost explained. The 2-percent shareholder may also be eligible for premium tax credits through the marketplace SHOP Marketplace if he or she meets other eligibility requirements.


Tricare

Employers can pay for some or all of the expenses of employees covered by Tricare—a Department of Defense program that provides civilian health benefits for military personnel (including some members of the reserves), military retirees and their dependents—if the payment plan is integrated with a group health plan that meets ACA coverage requirements.


Higher Pay Is Still OK

One option that the IRS will allow employers is to simply increase an employee’s taxable wages in lieu of offering health insurance. “As long as the money is not specifically designated for premiums, this would not be a premium payment plan,” said Jost. “The employer could even give the employee general information about the marketplace and the availability of premium tax credits as long as it does not direct the employee to a specific plan.”


But if the employer pays or reimburses premiums specifically, “even if the payments are made on an after-tax basis, the arrangement is a noncompliant group health plan and the employer that offers it is subject to the $100 per day per employee penalty,” Jost warned.


“Small employers now have just over four months in which to wind down any impermissible premium-reimbursement arrangement,” the Spencer Fane brief notes. “In its place, they may wish to adopt a plan through a SHOP Marketplace. Although individuals may enroll through a Marketplace during only annual or special enrollment periods, there is no such limitation on an employer’s ability to adopt a plan through a SHOP.” 

Deadline for Obtaining a Health Plan Identifier (HPID) Quickly Approaching

October 02 - Posted at 2:00 PM Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Health Care Reform requires most self-funded and fully-insured group health plans to obtain a Health Plan Identifier (HPID).  The HPID is a 10-digit number that will be used to identify the plan in covered electronic HIPAA transactions (for example,electronic communications between the plan and certain third parties regarding health care claims, health plan premium payments, or health care electronic fund transfers).

 

Large health plans (plans with annual receipts in excess of $5 million) must obtain an HPID by November 5, 2014. Small health plans have until November 5, 2015 to comply. “Receipts” for this purpose appear to be claims paid.

 

Who is Responsible? For self-funded plans, the plan sponsor is responsible for obtaining an HPID (third-party administrators cannot obtain an HPID on behalf of a self-funded plan sponsor). Although it appears that most insurers will obtain the HPID on behalf of fully-insured plans, some insurers are requiring the plan sponsor to obtain an HPID.

 

Application Process. To sign up for an HPID, plan sponsors must first be registered within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Health Insurance Oversight System (HIOS) .

 

The individual responsible for applying will need to sign up as an individual and request to be linked to the relevant company.  The individual will then complete the requested information (including company name, address, and EIN, authorizing official information, and the plan’s “Payer ID” number or “NAIC” number).

 

Some self-funded plan sponsors have reported difficulty with the registration process because self-funded plans do not have a Payer ID or NAIC number.  Although CMS has not yet released any formal guidance on this issue, it is expected that self-funded plans will enter “not applicable” for the Payer ID and either leave the NAIC number blank or use the plan sponsor’s EIN in lieu of the NAIC number.

 

Once the required information has been submitted, an authorized individual within the company must request access to the HIOS. CMS will then grant access to the HIOS system by electronically sending an authorization code to the authorized individual.

 

The CMS website has step-by-step instructions via a “cheat sheet” and a YouTube video explaining the entire process.

 

Next Steps. The registration process can be time consuming as there are a number of different registration screens to work through, the collection of the required data may be cumbersome, and delays have been reported within the CMS registration portal.  Accordingly, plan sponsors of large self-funded group health plans may wish to begin the registration process as soon as possible in order to meet the November 5, 2014 deadline.  Plan sponsors for fully-insured plans should contact the plan’s insurer to see if the insurer will apply for the HPID on behalf of the plan.

© 2021 Administrators Advisory Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved