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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.
If you are interested in signing up for medical coverage through the Marketplace, please note that you only have until the end of the open enrollment period (March 31, 2014) to sign up for coverage effective either April 1, 2014 or May 1, 2014. The effective date of your coverage in the Marketplace depends on when your application is submitted and processed.
The only way you will be able to enroll in a Marketplace medical plan outside of the open enrollment period is if you qualify for a “special enrollment” due to a qualifying event. A qualifying event is a change in your life that would make you eligible to sign up for coverage outside of open enrollment such as a marriage, divorce, birth or adoption, moving to a new state, loss of employment or loss of coverage due to changes in employment, etc. With employer based medical coverage, you typically have 30 days from the date of the qualifying event to enroll or make changes to your coverage due to a qualifying event, but the Marketplace allows you 60 days from the qualifying event to make changes.
You can enroll on either Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time during the year as there is no limited open enrollment periods for these programs. You only need to qualify for these programs to be eligible. You can either complete a Marketplace application to find out if you are eligible for either program or contact your state agencies for further information.
The tentative next open enrollment dates for the Marketplace are November 15, 2014 through January 15, 2015, however please note that these dates are subject to change.
Did you know that some of the major insurance carriers have revised their requirements on small group medical insurance regarding employee participation and employer contribution?
One major carrier offers 5 group medical plans in Florida for employers (with 2-100 employees) that lowers the required employer contribution to the lesser of 25% of the employee medical premium or $50 per employee. Additionally, they also only require 50% employee participation on any of these 5 plans.
Currently most major medical carriers require the employer to contribute 50% towards the cost of the employee premium and the group must maintain 75% employee participation (this does not include any eligible employees who can provide proof of valid coverage elsewhere).
Another national medical insurance carrier just lowered their employee participation requirements for all small group medical plans in Florida. This is valid only for new business with 2-50 eligible employees, but it does apply to all of their small business medical plans offered. Any existing small group clients with this carrier are still subject to the 75% participation requirement currently.
If you would like more information on any of the plans offered, please contact our office for more information.
As a business owner, it is important to understand how the Affordable Care Act may affect your business. However, with so many misconceptions about about Health Care Reform works, this can be difficult.
A common myth is that business owners will be fined if they do not provide notification to their employees about the new Health Insurance Marketplace.
If your company is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you must provide a written notice to your employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace (aka Exchange) by October 1, 2013, however the Department of Labor has announced is no fine or penalty currently under the law for failing to provide this notice.
For more information on the Exchange notice, please contact our office or review a previous post on this topic.
With the open enrollment period for the Exchange beginning October 1, 2013, many questions are beginning to surface regarding how premium subsidies will work as individuals start to evaluate all of their options available to them.
Q1: It sounds like individuals who choose to buy health insurance on the Exchange will have to pay the full monthly premium for the coverage they choose and subsidies will be paid through tax credit that are received annual as a tax refund. How can a low income person who is living paycheck to paycheck afford this?
A: When consumers apply for a plan on the Exchange (aka marketplace), you will be asked to provide income information to determine if you are eligible for a premium tax credit (aka subsidy). A subsidy will be available to people with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level ($45,960 for an individual in 2013 or $94,200 for a family of four).
If you qualify for the subsidy, consumers can opt to receive their tax credits in advance, and the exchange will send the money directly to the insurer every month. This subsidy will reduce the amount you owe up front on your medical premium. You can also choose, instead, to receive your credit when you file your taxes the following year.
It is important to estimate your income as accurately as possible and to contact the Exchange during the year if you find out that you are making more or less than expected. When completing your 2014 taxes, your estimate will be reconciles with what you actually earned. If you have received more than you were due, you could have to repay those amounts.
Q2: What happens if I do not pay my premium in a timely manner after I have purchased insurance on the Exchange? If I am terminated from the policy, will I be able to have it re-instated?
A:Consumers who are receiving premium tax credit for coverage on the Exchange will have a 90 day grace period to catch up on late premiums. Other consumers who do not receive a subsidy may get more or less time, depending on the Exchange rules. Once the grace period has passed, consumers will generally have to wait until the next annual open enrollment period in the fall to re-enroll in coverage. Please note though, if an individual goes uninsured for more than 3 months, they could be assess a penalty for not having insurance coverage of up to $95, or 1% of income in 2014, whichever is greater.
Please contact our office for assistance with evalutating your options and obtaining coverage through the Exchange.
For Florida residents hoping to purchase coverage through the new health insurance exchange, the state Office of Insurance Regulation has recently released information that your options will largely depend on where you reside.
As of August 2013, 10 insurance companies have received federal approval to sell Floridians health plans on the federally assisted health exchange, which rolls out Oct. 1. However, Kevin McCarty, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, has said that not all companies will sell plans in all counties.
More than half of Florida’s counties will have only one or two insurance companies selling plans through the new marketplace and no county will offer plans from all 10 companies, according to the insurance commissioner’s office. The companies that will be actively selling within the Florida Exchange are:
South Floridians will have the most choice, while residents in rural areas have the least. Broward and Miami-Dade counties will sell plans from nine federally approved insurers. In Central Florida, residents of Orange, Osceola and Lake counties will have options from five insurance companies, while Seminole and Volusia will have six. Population density and an insurer’s current presence in an area will determine if the carrier has choose to sell in your area.
Although the Florida insurance commissioner knows which 10 companies have been approved to sell plans in Florida, they would not disclose which companies would sell in each county yet.
A spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield made no secret they would be selling plans in all 67 Florida counties, making it the only insurer to do so. Blue Cross Blue Shield will in fact be the sole seller for exchange plans in 21 Florida counties.
Insurers can offer a tiered set of plans, ranging from bronze (a leaner choice) to platinum (with the most benefits). Still forthcoming, however, are details about what the individual plans will offer and what each will cost.
Florida residents should begin now to familiarize themselves with the exchange, explore the varied levels of coverage available and understand the possible tax credits available since open enrollment for the Exchange is scheduled to begin October 1st for a January 1, 2014 effective date.
To qualify for tax credits available under the health-care overhaul, residents must get their insurance on the government exchange (healthcare.gov).
How Will This Change Effect Me?
There will be NO CHANGE to a member’s current prescription benefit coverage as a result of the move to OptumRx.
Members will receive a new UHC ID card in the mail with the new OptumRx information on it. The new card will not be effective until September 1st. Members will also receive communication direct from UHC to help inform them about this change also.
Members will still have access to over 64,000 network retail pharmacies, including all large national chains, and many local community pharmacies.
Most current mail service prescriptions that have remaining refills will automatically transfer over to OptumRx. Prescriptions for certain medications, like painkillers, will not transfer. In this instance, members will receive a letter from UHC letting them know their current prescription will not transfer over to OptumRx and they will need to obtain a new mail order prescription from their doctor.
Please contact our office for more information on this transition.
Released 4/2/13, the Obama Administration is delaying a key portion of the federally-run SHOP Marketplace, in which small businesses can offer a choice of health plans to their employees through the public marketplace. As a result, small businesses will be limited to offering a single plan through the federally-run SHOP Marketplace until 2015.
The multi-place choice option was supposed to become available to small employers via the federally-run SHOP Marketplace in January 2014. But administration officials said they would delay it until 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running the SHOP insurance marketplaces.
Many feel this delay will “prolong and exacerbate healthcare costs that are crippling 29 million small businesses” according to a recent NY Times article.
What is the SHOP Marketplace?
As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states are required to provide a Group Market Health Insurance Exchange for businesses (called the Small Business Health Options Program or “SHOP”). The SHOP Marketplace is essentially a public group health insurance exchange that will be available for small businesses starting January 1, 2014. The new program was designed to simplify the process of finding health insurance for small businesses and applying any applicable tax credits that an individual may qualify for.
As with the individual health insurance marketplace, all states have three options for offering a SHOP marketplace: (1) create their own state-run marketplace, (2) join a federal-state partnership, or (3) default to the federally-run SHOP marketplace. As mentioned above, 33 states are expected to default to the federally-run marketplace.
Initially, the SHOP marketplaces are for businesses with up to 100 employees. However, states can limit participation to businesses with up to 50 employees until 2016, so eligibility will ultimately vary from state to state.
Proposed guidance on the 90 day waiting period limit that was set in place by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was issued on March 21, 2013 by the Department of Labor, Health & Human Services, and the Treasury (the “Departments”). This rule will apply to plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014.
The 90 day limit set under Health Care Reform prevents an eligible employee or dependent from having to wait more than 90 days before coverage under a group health plan becomes effective. All calendar days (including weekends and holidays) are counted when determining what date the employee has satisfied the 90 day probationary period.
The Departments have confirmed that there is no de minimis exception for the difference between 90 days and 3 months. Therefore, plans with a 3 month waiting period in their group benefit contracts (including the Section 125 plan document) will need to make sure these are amended for the 2014 plan year. In addition, plans with a waiting period in which coverage begins on the first day of the month immediately following 90 days will also need to be amended as coverage can not begin any later than the 90th day. Employers who prefer to use a first day of the month starting date for coverage rather than a date sometime mid-month should consider implementing a 60 day waiting period instead. If an employer runs into an instance where an employee is in the middle of their waiting period when the regulations become effective (on the group’s renewal anniversary date on or following January 1, 2014), the waiting period for the employee may need to be shortened if it would exceed the 90 days.
Caution: Employers sponsoring a group health plan should also be mindful of the rules under the employer “pay or play” mandate. The 90 day limit on waiting periods offers slightly more flexibility than the employer mandate. For instance, if an employer’s health plan provides employees will become eligible for coverage 90 days after obtaining a pilot’s license, that requirement would comply with the 90 day limit on waiting periods. However, the same employer could be liable under the employer mandate for failing to provide coverage to a full time employee within 3 months of their date of hire. So, employers sponsoring a group health plan should confirm that any plan eligibility criteria aligns with both the employer mandate and the 90 day limit on waiting periods.
The Departments have also announced that HIPAA Certificates of Creditable Coverage will be phased out by 2015. Plans will not be permitted to impose any pre-existing condition exclusions effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. This provision is also in effect for enrollees who are under age 19. Plan sponsors must continue to provide Certificates through December 31, 2014 since individuals enrolling in plans with plan years beginning later than January 1 may still be subject to pre-existing condition exclusions up through 2014.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) adds a new Section 4980H to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 which requires employers to offer health coverage to their employees (aka the “Employer Mandate”). The following Q&As are designed to deal with commonly asked questions. These Q&As are based on proposed regulations and final regulations, when issued, may change the requirements.
Question 3: When Is the Employer Mandate Effective and What Transition Rules Apply?
Large employers are subject to the Employer Mandate beginning on January 1, 2014. However, the effective date for employers that have fiscal year health plans is deferred if certain requirements are met. There are also special transition rules for offering coverage to dependents, offering coverage through multi-employer plans, change in status events under cafeteria plans, determining large employer status, and determining who is a full-time employee.
Fiscal Year Health Plans
An employer with a health plan on a fiscal year faces unique challenges concerning the Employer Mandate. Because terms and conditions of coverage may be difficult to change mid-year, a January 1, 2014 effective date would force fiscal year plans to be compliant for the entire fiscal 2013 plan year. Recognizing the potential burdens, the IRS has granted special transition relief for employers that maintained fiscal year health plans as of December 27, 2012. Both transition relief rules apply separately to each employer in a group of related employers under common control.
Coverage of Dependents
Large employers must offer coverage not just to their full-time employees but also to their dependents to avoid the Employer Mandate penalty. A “dependent” for this purpose is defined as a full-time employee’s child who is under age 26. Because this requirement may result in substantial changes to eligibility for some employer-sponsored plans, the IRS is providing transition relief for 2014. As long as employers “take steps” during the 2014 plan year to comply and offer coverage that meets this requirement no later than the beginning of the 2015 plan year, no penalty will be imposed during the 2014 plan year solely due to the failure of the employer to offer coverage to dependents.
Multiemployer plans represent another special circumstance because their unique structure complicates application of the Employer Mandate rules. These plans generally are operated under collective bargaining agreements and include multiple participating employers. Typically, an employee’s is determined by considering the employee’s hours of service for all participating employers, even though those employers generally are unrelated. Furthermore, contributions may be made on a basis other than hours worked, such as days worked, projects completed, or a percentage of earnings. Thus, it may be difficult to determine how many hours a particular employee has worked over any given period of time.
To ease the administrative burden faced by employers participating in multiemployer plans, a special transition rule applies through 2014. Under this transition rule, an employer whose full-time employees participate in a multiemployer plan will not be subject to any Employer Mandate penalties with respect to such full-time employees, provided that:
(i) the employer contributes to a multiemployer plan for those employees under a collective bargaining agreement or participation agreement
(ii) full-time employees and their dependents are offered coverage under the multiemployer plan, and
(iii) such coverage is affordable and provides minimum value.
This rule applies only to employees who are eligible for coverage under the multiemployer plan. Employers must still comply with the Employer Mandate under the normal rules with respect to its other full-time employees.
Change in Status Events under Fiscal Year Cafeteria Plans
The IRS has also issued transition rules that apply specifically to fiscal year cafeteria plans. Under tax rules applicable to cafeteria plans, an employee’s elections must be made prior to the beginning of the plan year and may not be changed during the plan year, unless the employee experiences a “qualifying event”. An employee’s mid-year enrollment in health coverage through an Exchange or in an employer’s health plan to meet the obligation under the ACA’s individual mandate to obtain health coverage is not a “qualifying event” under the current cafeteria plan rules.
The IRS addresses this by providing that a large employer that operates a fiscal year cafeteria plan may amend the plan to allow for mid-year changes to employee elections for the 2013 fiscal plan year if they are consistent with an employee’s election of health coverage under the employer’s plan or through an Exchange. Specifically, the plan may provide that an employee who did not make a Sec. 125 election to purchase health coverage before the deadline for the 2013 fiscal plan year is permitted to make such an election during the 2013 fiscal plan year, and/or that an employee who made a Section 125 election to purchase health coverage is permitted to revoke/change such election once during the 2013 fiscal plan year, regardless of whether a qualifying event occurs with respect to the employee.
This transition rule applies only to elections related to health coverage and not to any other benefits offered under a cafeteria plan. Any amendment to implement this transition rule must be adopted no later than December 31, 2014 and can be retroactively effective if adopted by such date.
Determining Large Employer Status and Who is a Full-Time Employee
The IRS has also issued transition rules for determining large employer status and determining who is a full-time employee. In general, large employer status is based on the number of employees employed during the immediately preceding year. In order to allow employers to have sufficient time to prepare for the Employer Mandate before the beginning of 2014, for purposes of determining large employer status for 2014 only, employers may use a period of no less than 6 calendar months in 2013 to determine their status for 2014 (rather than using the entire 2013 calendar year).