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Late last week, the IRS released Rev. Proc. 2018-34 which, among other items, set the affordability threshold for employers in 2019. In order to avoid a potential section 4980H(b) penalty (aka Pay or Play penalty), an employer must make sure one of its plans provides minimum value and is offered at an affordable price. An actuary will determine whether the minimum value threshold has been satisfied and this is generally not an issue for employers. However, an employer is in control as to whether the plan it is offering meets the affordability threshold.
A plan is considered affordable under the ACA if the employee’s contribution level for self-only coverage does not exceed 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income. This 9.5 percent threshold is indexed for years after 2014. In 2018 the affordability threshold decreased from 9.69 percent to 9.56 percent. However, similar to every other year, the affordability threshold is scheduled to increase in 2019. In 2019 the affordability threshold will be 9.86 percent. The significant increase compared to 2018 provides an employer who is toeing the line of the affordability threshold an opportunity to increase the price of its health insurance while continuing to provide affordable coverage.
An employer wishing to use one of the affordability safe harbors will use the 2019 affordability threshold of 9.86 percent when determining if the safe harbor has been satisfied. The first affordability safe harbor an employer may utilize is referred to as the form w-2 safe harbor. Under the form w-2 safe harbor, an employer’s offer will be deemed affordable if the employee’s required contribution for the employer’s lowest cost self-only coverage that provides minimum value does not exceed 9.86 percent of that employee’s form w-2 wages (box 1 of the form w-2) from the employer for the calendar year.
The second affordability safe harbor is the rate of pay safe harbor. The rate of pay safe harbor can be broken into two tests, one test for hourly employees and another test for salaried employees. For hourly employee, an employer’s offer will be deemed affordable if the employee’s required contribution for the month for the employer’s lowest cost self-only coverage that provides minimum value does not exceed 9.86 percent of the product of the employee’s hourly rate of pay and 130 hours. For salaried employees, an employer’s offer will be deemed affordable if the employee’s required contribution for the month for the employer’s lowest cost self-only coverage that provides minimum value does not exceed 9.86 percent of the employee’s monthly salary.
The final affordability safe harbor is the federal poverty line safe harbor. Under the federal poverty line safe harbor, an employer’s offer will be deemed affordable if the employee’s required contribution for the employer’s lowest cost self-only coverage that provides minimum value does not exceed 9.86 percent of the monthly Federal Poverty Line (FPL) for a single individual. The annual federal poverty line amount to use for the United States mainland in 2019 is $12,140. Therefore, an employee’s monthly cost for self-only coverage cannot exceed $99.75 in order to satisfy the federal poverty line safe harbor.
When planning for the 2019 plan year, every employer should check to make sure at least one of its plans that provides minimum value meets one of the affordability safe harbors discussed above for each of its full-time employees. Should you have any questions on determining the affordability of a plan or any other questions related to the Forms 1094-C and 1095-C, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
President Donald Trump signed the Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017 (the Act) on January 22 to end the two-day government shutdown. In addition to funding the government for two-and-a-half weeks, the Act delays the onset of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) “Cadillac Tax” by two more years. The Cadillac Tax was originally intended to go into effect in 2018, but President Obama delayed the effective date until 2020. The Act now delays the Cadillac Tax until 2022.
The Act also extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding for six years.
The Cadillac Tax is a 40% tax on the value of employer-sponsored health coverage that exceeds certain benefit thresholds. It is widely unpopular with employer groups and, as we have previously reported, Congress has expressed a strong bipartisan desire to repeal the Cadillac Tax entirely.
In the meantime, the US Department of the Treasury has not issued guidance on the Cadillac Tax since before the initial delay, and therefore, it is likely that the Act will further delay any additional Cadillac Tax guidance.
It is 7pm at night and you burn your hand while cooking dinner. Your doctor’s office is closed but you are pretty certain that your burn needs to receive some sort of medical attention soon. Should you go to the Emergency Room that is close to your house and most convenient or should you try to go to a Convenience Care Clinic at your neighborhood grocery store or go to the Urgent Care Clinic about 15 minutes away? Maybe you can just wait until the morning and try to get an appointment to be seen by your doctor.
It is generally known that a visit to the Emergency Room costs more than a trip to a Physician’s office for the same ailment/treatment, but most employees and employers do not realize just how different the costs between the various care options really are. Choosing the most appropriate option can save employees from paying higher copays and deductibles and it helps to keep the employer’s annual claims costs down as well. Since lower claims can positively influence the renewal rates for the next policy period, it is vital that everyone understand the available options for care so they can make an educated decision about what is best for their particulate sickness/injury.
Below is an example of what an average visit at various care options could cost for someone without health insurance:
Some Emergency Room trips are certainly needed & warranted based on the severity of the issue, however in the US, every year a substantial number of visits that occur at the ER are for situations which are not life threatening and where alternative treatments could have been provided for a far lower cost.
For example, a medium size business could see their claims reduced by almost $25,000 just by encouraging employees to utilize Urgency Care over an Emergency Room when appropriate. Collectively employees could also save up to $5000 a year in copays or more for plans that have deductibles for ER visits (based on 20 trips a year).
These are facilities operated out of a hospital and other primary care centers that are typically open 24 hours a day. They are capable of handling severe and life threatening injury or illness. While the ER can handle virtually any problem, trips in general should be reserves for issues such as heavy bleeding, difficulty breathing, major burns, severe head injuries, internal injuries, convulsions/ seizures, severe chest or abdominal pain, pregnancy complications, sudden changes in vision or severe eye injuries, large open wounds, loss of conciseness, poisoning, spinal injuries, severe infections, severe allergic reactions, high fever or major broken bones.
Any case where an individual’s life could be reasonably at risk or the severity of the situation is not known, it is always best to err on the side of caution and visit the ER over other care options.
Emergency Rooms under a medical plan are usually subject to either copays ranging from $250 – $450 per visit or to the plan Deductible plus 20%-50% Coinsurance.
Urgent Care Centers
A level below an ER is an Urgent Care Center. These will typically have a medical doctor on site at all times during operational hours and commonly utilize Nurse Practitioners (NPs) or Physician Assistants (PAs) to assist patients. These facilities usually have extended hours, are open 7 days a week, and do not require appointments.
Instances where an Urgent Care trip would be appropriate include: Sprains & strains, minor burns, urinary tract infections, minor allergic reactions, fevers and/or flu, back pain, seasonal allergies, minor infections, vomiting and/or diarrhea, minor cuts requiring stitches, moderate asthma/ breathing discomfort, and minor broken bones.
Urgent Care Centers under a medical plan are usually subject to either copays ranging from $75-$100 per visit or to the plan Deductible plus 20%-50% Coinsurance.
Primary Care Physician Office
This would be either an individual’s Primary Care Physician or a physician’s office that handles general care on an as needed basis. This could be an independent office, or part of a larger group network. A doctor is usually onsite, but it is also common for PA’s or NP’s to treat patients as well. Many offices are open regular business hours (9-5), 5 days a week. These offices can generally handle everything that can be done at an Urgent Care Center, but at a lower cost. Most offices do require an appointment, so they are best when the matter does not require immediate attention.
Reasons to visit a Physician’s office are the same as an Urgent Care with the addition of a basic annual check up and/or preventative care. Preventative care (such as an annual wellness checks/exams) are covered under most medical plans at 100%.
Physician Offices under a medical plan are usually subject to either copays ranging from $20-$70 per visit or to the plan Deductible plus a copay of $25-$50.
Convenience Care / Retail Clinics
These are typically found inside of stores like Walmart, Target, CVS & Walgreens, but are also becoming more common in grocery stores as well. They are usually staffed by a PA or NP without a doctor on site. These clinics have similar, or slightly reduced hours than the retails stores they are in, and may or may not be open 7 days a week. They do not require an appointment and are better for minor issues that need attention.
Common reasons to visit a Convenience Clinic include sore throat, earache, sinus infection, flu shot, common cold, upset stomach, bug bites, minor fever, minor rash, coughing, & congestion.
Convenience Clinics under a medical plan are usually subject to either copays ranging from $40-$60 per visit or to the plan Deductible plus a copay of $20-$40.
This is becoming more common as a care option for employees covered under medical plans. Telemedicine, also commonly called Virtual Visits, is when you speak to a healthcare professional through a computer, phone, or tablet. This is an alternative to an in person trip when a diagnosis rather than a physical treatment is needed. Virtual visits may occur with a doctor, NP, or PA and are often available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Telemedicine can be used for many of the same ailments that Urgent & Convenience Care can handle. It is also good as an initial option for those in rural areas who don’t have quick access to other facility options.
Common reasons to use telemedicine include minor allergies, fever, pinkeye, sinus infection. Cough/cold, diarrhea, rash, sore throat, congestion, urinary tract infections, flu or stomach ache.
Telemedicine / Virtual Visits under a medical plan are usually subject to a lower copay than a regular Physician office visit ranging from $10-$20 per visit.
It is important to educate employees on their options and stress that choosing the most appropriate option for care will not only save them money on copays and deductibles, but can also help to keep the group premiums from significant increases at the end of the policy period. It is suggested to compile a list of several Urgent and Convenience Care facilities in the area, along with their hours of operation and recommended services they can handle for employees to use as a general reference. Distributing information about the availability of telemedicine and how to access it will also help to encourage employees to use lower cost options for care for minor issues.
IRS has begun notifying employers of their potential liability for an ACA employer shared responsibility payment in connection with the 2015 calendar year. It recently released Forms 14764 and 14765, which employers can use to dispute the assessment.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes employer shared responsibility requirements that are commonly referred to as the “employer mandate.” Beginning in 2015, applicable large employers (ALEs) – generally, employers with at least 50 full-time employees – are required to offer minimum essential coverage to substantially all full-time employees and their dependents, or pay a penalty if at least one full-time employee enrolls in marketplace coverage and receives a premium tax credit. Even if they offer employees coverage, ALEs may still be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment if the coverage they offer to full-time employees does not meet affordability standards or fails to provide minimum value.
The IRS announced their plans in Fall of 2017 to notify employers of their potential liability for an employer penalty for the 2015 calendar year. It released FAQs explaining that Letter 226J will note the employees by month who received a premium tax credit, and provide the proposed employer penalty. Additionally, the IRS promised to release forms for an employer’s penalty response and the employee premium tax credit (PTC) list respectively.
On Form 14764, employers indicate full or partial agreement or disagreement with the proposed employer penalty, as well as the preferred employer penalty payment option. An employer that disagrees with the assessment must include a signed statement explaining the disagreement, including any supporting documentation. This form also allows employers to authorize a representative, such as an attorney, to contact the IRS about the proposed employer penalty.
On Form 14765, the IRS lists the name and last four digits of the social security number of any full-time employee who received a premium tax credit for one or more months during 2015 and where the employer did not qualify for an affordability safe harbor or other relief via Form 1095-C. Each monthly box has a row reflecting any codes entered on line 14 and line 16 of the employee’s Form 1095-C. If a given month is not highlighted, the employee is an assessable full-time employee for that month – resulting in a potential employer assessment for that month.
If information reported on an employee’s Form 1095-C was not accurate or was incomplete, an employer wishing to make changes must use the applicable indicator codes for lines 14 and 16 described in the Form 1094-C and 1095-C instructions. The employer should enter the new codes in the second row of each monthly box by using the indicator codes for lines 14 and 16. The employer can provide additional information about the changes for an employee by checking the “Additional Information Attached” column. As mentioned:
Employers: Carefully Consider 226J Letter Responses
Miscoding can happen for different reasons, including vendor errors and inaccurate data. To minimize risk of additional IRS exposure, employers should carefully consider how best to respond to a 226J letter given circumstances surrounding the disputed assessments. For example, changing the coding on the 1095-C of an employee from full-time to part-time could trigger further review or questions by the IRS on the process for determining who is a full-time employee – and may increase the likelihood of IRS penalties for reporting errors on an employer’s Form 1095-Cs.
In its October FAQs, the IRS stated that it “plans to issue Letter 226J informing ALEs of their potential liability for an employer shared responsibility payment, if any, in late 2017.” If the IRS sticks to that timing, all notices should be sent out by the end of this calendar year. However, because the IRS has not indicated that it will inform employers that they have no employer penalty due, it is impossible to say that an employer not receiving a Letter 226J in 2017 is home free for 2015 employer penalties.
Employers should review the newly released forms so they are prepared to respond within 30 days of the date on the Letter 226J. They should also ensure processes are in place to make these payments, as necessary. Even employers who are not expecting any assessments will need to prepare to respond to the IRS within the limited timeframe to dispute any incorrect assessments.
Under the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) a fund for a new nonprofit corporation to assist in clinical effectiveness research was created. To aid in the financial support for this endeavor, certain health insurance carriers and health plan sponsors are required to pay fees based on the average number of lives covered by welfare benefits plans. These fees are referred to as either Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI) or Clinical Effectiveness Research (CER) fees.
The applicable fee was $2.26 for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2016 and before October 1, 2017. For plan years ending on or after October 1, 2017 and before October 1, 2018, the fee is $2.39. Indexed each year, the fee amount is determined by the value of national health expenditures. The fee phases out and will not apply to plan years ending after September 30, 2019.
As a reminder, fees are required for all group health plans including Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs), but are not required for health flexible spending accounts (FSAs) that are considered excepted benefits. To be an excepted benefit, health FSA participants must be eligible for their employer’s group health insurance plan and may include employer contributions in addition to employee salary reductions. However, the employer contributions may only be $500 per participant or up to a dollar for dollar match of each participant’s election.
HRAs exempt from other regulations would be subject to the CER fee. For instance, an HRA that only covered retirees would be subject to this fee, but those covering dental or vision expenses only would not be, nor would employee EAPs, disease management programs and wellness programs be required to pay CER fees.
The next ACA compliance hurdle employers are set to face is managing subsidy notifications and appeals. Many exchanges recently began mailing out notifications this summer and it’s important for employers to make sure they’re prepared to manage the process. Why? Well, subsidies—also referred to as Advanced Premium Tax Credits, are a trigger for employer penalties. If you fail to offer coverage to an eligible employee and the employee receives a subsidy, you may be liable for a fine.
If an employee receives a subsidy, you’ll receive a notice. This is where things can get complicated. You need to ensure that the notifications go directly to the correct person or department as soon as possible, because you (the employer) only have 90 days from the date on the notification to respond. And rounding up these notices may not be so easy. For example, your employee may not have put the right employer address on their exchange / marketplace application. Most often, employees will list the address of the location where they work, not necessarily the address where the notification should go, like your headquarters or HR department. If the employee is receiving a subsidy but put a wrong address or did not put any address for their employer, you will not even receive a notice about that employee.
Once you receive the notification, you must decide whether or not you want to appeal the subsidy. If you offered minimum essential coverage (MEC) to the employee who received a subsidy and it met both the affordability and minimum value requirements, you should consider appealing.
You may think that appealing a subsidy and potentially getting in the way of your employee receiving a tax credit could create complications. Believe it or not, you may actually be doing your employee a favor. If an employee receives a subsidy when they weren’t supposed to, they’ll likely have to repay some (or all) of the subsidy amount back when they file their taxes. Your appeal can help minimize the chance of this happening since they will learn sooner rather than later that they didn’t qualify for the subsidy. Plus, the appeal can help prevent unnecessary fines impacting your organization by showing that qualifying coverage was in fact offered.
If you have grounds to appeal, you can complete an Employer Appeal Request Form and submit it to the appropriate exchange / marketplace (Note: this particular form is intended to appeal subsidies through the Federal exchange). The form will ask for information about your organization, the employee whose subsidy you’re appealing, and why you’re appealing it. Once sent, the exchange will notify both you and the employee when the appeal was received.
Next, the exchange will review the case and make a decision. In some cases, the exchange may choose to hold a hearing. Once a decision is made, you and your employee will be notified. But it doesn’t necessarily end there. Your employee will have an opportunity to appeal the exchange’s decision with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). If HHS decides to hold a hearing, you may be called to testify. In this situation, HHS will review the case and make a final decision. If HHS decides that the employee isn’t eligible for the subsidy, then the employee may have to repay the subsidy amount for the last few months. On the other hand, if the HHS decides the employee is eligible for the subsidy, it will be important for you to keep your appeal on file since this can potentially result in a fine from the IRS later in the year.
Sound complicated? It certainly can be. Managing subsidies and appeals could quickly add up to a substantial time investment, and if handled improperly you could see additional impacts to your bottom line in the form of fines. Handling subsidy notifications and appeals properly up front can lead to fewer fines down the road, benefiting both you and your employees.
You did it! Your 1095 forms are ready and going out to employees. Now what?
You guessed it: Employee confusion. You’re going to get some questions. If you’re the one in charge of providing the answers, remember a great offense is the best defense. You’ll want to answer the most common questions before they’re even asked.
We’ve put together a list of some basic things employees will want to know, along with sample answers. Tailor these Q&As as needed for your organization. and then send them out to employees using every channel you can (mail, e-mail, employee meetings, company website, social media, posters). Tell employees how to get more detailed information if they need it.
1. What is this form I’m receiving?
A 1095 form is a little bit like a W-2 form. Your employer (and/or insurer) sends one copy to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and one copy to you. A W-2 form reports your annual earnings. A 1095 form reports your health care coverage throughout the year.
2. Who is sending it to me, when, and how?
Your employer and/or health insurance company should send one to you either by mail or in person. They may send the form to you electronically if you gave them permission to do so. You should receive it by March 31, 2016. (Starting in 2017, you should receive it each year by January 31, just like your W-2.)
3. Why are you sending it to me?
The 1095 forms will show that you and your family members either did or did not have health coverage with our organization during each month of the past year. Because of the Affordable Care Act, every person must obtain health insurance or pay a penalty to the IRS.
4. What am I supposed to do with this form?
Keep it for your tax records. You don’t actually need this form in order to file your taxes, but when you do file, you’ll have to tell the IRS whether or not you had health insurance for each month of 2015. The Form 1095-B or 1095-C shows if you had health insurance through your employer. Since you don’t actually need this form to file your taxes, you don’t have to wait to receive it if you already know what months you did or didn’t have health insurance in 2015. When you do get the form, keep it with your other 2015 tax information in case you should need it in the future to help prove you had health insurance.
5. What if I get more than one 1095 form?
Someone who had health insurance through more than one employer during the year may receive a 1095-B or 1095-C from each employer. Some employees may receive a Form 1095-A and/or 1095-B reporting specific health coverage details. Just keep these—you do not need to send them in with your 2015 taxes.
6. What if I did not get a Form 1095-B or a 1095-C?
If you believe you should have received one but did not, contact the Benefits Department by phone or e-mail at this number or address.
7. I have more questions—who do I contact?
Please contact _____ at ____. You can also go to our (company) website and find more detailed questions and answers. An IRS website called Questions and Answers about Health Care Information Forms for Individuals (Forms 1095-A, 1095-B, and 1095-C) covers most of what you need to know.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on February 20,2015 a special enrollment period (SEP) for individuals and families who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the fee or “shared responsibility payment” when they file their 2014 taxes in states which use the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFM). This special enrollment period will allow those individuals and families who were unaware or didn’t understand the implications of this new requirement to enroll in 2015 health insurance coverage through the FFM.
For those who were unaware or didn’t understand the implications of the fee for not enrolling in coverage, CMS will provide consumers with an opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage from March 15 to April 30. If consumers do not purchase coverage for 2015 during this special enrollment period, they may have to pay a fee when they file their 2015 income taxes.
Those eligible for this special enrollment period live in states with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace and:
The special enrollment period announced today will begin on March 15, 2015 and end at 11:59 pm E.S.T. on April 30, 2015. If a consumer enrolls in coverage before the 15th of the month, coverage will be effective on the first day of the following month.
This year’s tax season is the first time individuals and families will be asked to provide basic information regarding their health coverage on their tax returns. Individuals who could not afford coverage or met other conditions may be eligible to receive an exemption for 2014. To help consumers who did not have insurance last year determine if they qualify for an exemption, CMS also launched a health coverage tax exemption tool today on HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov.
“We recognize that this is the first tax filing season where consumers may have to pay a fee or claim an exemption for not having health insurance coverage,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Our priority is to make sure consumers understand the new requirement to enroll in health coverage and to provide those who were not aware or did not understand the requirement with an opportunity to enroll in affordable coverage this year.”
Most taxpayers will only need to check a box when they file their taxes to indicate that they had health coverage in 2014 through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans care or other qualified health coverage that qualifies as “minimum essential coverage.” The remaining taxpayers will take different steps. It is expected that 10 to 20 percent of taxpayers who were uninsured for all or part of 2014 will qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. A much smaller fraction of taxpayers, an estimated 2 to 4 percent, will pay a fee because they made a choice to not obtain coverage and are not eligible for an exemption.
Americans who do not qualify for an exemption and went without health coverage in 2014 will have to pay a fee – $95 per adult or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater – when they file their taxes this year. The fee increases to $325 per adult or 2% of income for 2015. Individuals taking advantage of this special enrollment period will still owe a fee for the months they were uninsured and did not receive an exemption in 2014 and 2015. This special enrollment period is designed to allow such individuals the opportunity to get covered for the remainder of the year and avoid additional fees for 2015.
The Administration is committed to providing the information and tools tax filers need to understand the new requirements. Part of this outreach effort involves coordinating efforts with nonprofit organizations and tax preparers who provide resources to consumers and offer on the ground support. If consumers have questions about their taxes, need to download forms, or want to learn more about the fee for not having insurance, they can find information and resources at www.HealthCare.gov/Taxes or www.IRS.gov. Consumers can also call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. Consumers who need assistance filing their taxes can visit IRS.gov/VITA or IRS.gov/freefile.
Consumers seeking to take advantage of the special enrollment period can find out if they are eligible by visitinghttps://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage. Consumers can find local help at: Localhelp.healthcare.gov or call the Federally-facilitated Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Assistance is available in 150 languages. The call is free.
For more information about Health Insurance Marketplaces, visit: www.healthcare.gov/marketplace
The IRS has released the 2014 Form 720 that plan sponsors of self-insured group health plans will use to report and pay the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fee. The fee is due by July 31, 2014 for plan years ending in 2013.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a fee on health insurers and plan sponsors of self-insured group health plans to help fund the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. PCORI is responsible for conducting research to evaluate and compare the health outcomes and clinical effectiveness, risks, and benefits of medical treatments, services, procedures, and drugs.
The PCORI fee is assessed for plan years ending after September 30, 2012. The initial fee is $1 times the average number of covered lives for the first plan year ending before October 1, 2013 and $2 per covered life for the plan year ending after October 1, 2013 and before October 1, 2014. Fees for subsequent years are subject to indexing. The PCORI fee will not be assessed for plan years ending after September 30, 2019, which means that for a calendar year plan, the last plan year for assessment is the 2018 calendar year.
Plan sponsors must pay the PCORI fee by July 31 of the calendar year immediately following the last day of that plan year. All plan sponsors of self-insured group health plans will pay the fee in 2014, but the amount of the fee varies depending on the plan year.
The IRS has released the 2014 Form 720 with instructions for plan sponsors to use to report and pay the PCORI fee. Although the Form 720 is a quarterly federal excise tax return, if the Form 720 is filled only to report the PCORI fee, no filing is required in other quarters unless other fees or taxes have to be reported.
Please contact our office for information on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it affects your business.
It was announced on Wednesday, March 5th, by the Obama Administration that it would allow some health plans that do not currently meet all Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements to continue offering non-compliant insurance for another two years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the announcement, clarifying the new policy.
In November 2013, the Obama administration decided that some non-grandfathered health plans in the small group and individual markets would not be considered out of compliance if they failed to meet certain coverage provisions of the ACA. The transition relief was originally scheduled to last for one year, and was viewed as a response to the numerous health insurance policy cancellations that would result from the new requirements.
This recent announcement extends this relief for two additional years. CMS released the following:
“At the option of the States, health insurance issuers that have issued or will issue a policy under the transitional policy anytime in 2014 may renew such policies at any time through October 1, 2016, and affected individuals and small businesses may choose to re-enroll in such coverage through October 1, 2016.”
Who Will This Impact?
This decision, which will likely prevent another wave of cancellations that were scheduled to begin November 1, 2014 and will impact some insurance offerings, but is unlikely to have a significant impact, since only about half of the states have opted to grant extensions to health plans within their jurisdictions. Further, the number of people currently on these non-compliant plans has been dropping, and is expected to continue to decline. Under the new policy, these plans (which typically offer fewer benefits at lower costs since they do not have to abide by the ACA’s minimum essential coverage) will still be available until plans expire in 2017.
Please note that it will be up to each individual state, as well as each individual insurance carrier, as to if they will decide to adopt this additional two year extension. Under the original one year transitional relief, even though it was allowed in the State of Florida, there are currently some health insurance carriers who have decided to not allow groups to renew their existing non-compliant medical plans.
We will continue to keep you up to date of new developments in ACA implementation as they arise. Please contact our office for additional information regarding your group’s medical policy and the impact of this recent change on it.