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The Affordable Care Act created a three-year transitional reinsurance program that reimburses health insurers in the individual market (both inside and outside the Marketplace/Exchanges) for losses they sustain when they enroll individuals who are higher-cost claimants. Health insurers and group health plans must contribute to this program by paying fees over a three-year period. 2016 is the third and final year for which these fees will be assessed.
The submission required for this final year’s fees must be filed by November 15, 2016, using the same online process used for the two prior years (i.e., via www.pay.gov).
The fees are assessed on plans that provide major medical coverage. The fees are paid on a per-person basis for each “covered life” under the plan, including dependents. For 2016, the fees are $27 per covered life, with payments due in 2017.
The fees are determined based on the plan’s enrollment count during the first nine calendar months of the year, regardless of the plan’s actual plan year. Enrollment counts for the first nine months of 2016 must be submitted by November 15, 2016. The form that contributing entities are required to submit by this deadline must include the date(s) in 2017 that the payments will be made as one or two automatic debits from the entity’s designated bank account.
Plans that are self-insured and self-administered are not required to pay the fees for 2016. To be regarded as self-administered, self-insured plans must retain responsibility for claims processing, claims adjudication (including internal appeals) and enrollment. Exceptions permit a self-insured group health plan to use a third-party administrator (TPA) in limited circumstances, but still avoid paying the fee. Plan sponsors eligible for the self-administered exemption do not need to take any action to claim it. In other words, no filing or submission is required for 2016 fees.
The official online form that needs to be completed is called the 2016 ACA Transitional Reinsurance Program Annual Enrollment and Contributions Submission Form (the 2016 Form). It became available online on October 3, 2016. CMS has posted web-based materials to assist plan sponsors in completing the 2016 Form. Plan sponsors will have to count enrollment in the plan for the first nine months of 2016, using any permissible counting method. As was the case for 2015, if the plan sponsor is reporting for itself, there is no need to upload supporting documentation with the 2016 Form. Plan sponsors that relied upon a third-party administrator (TPA) to do the submission for 2015 and intend to do the same this year should contact their TPA immediately to make sure the TPA is prepared to handle this for 2016.
Plan sponsors that may be newly eligible for the exemption for self-insured, self-administered plans due to a change in their operations should work with legal counsel to determine if the exemption is applicable. Other plan sponsors should get ready to complete the submission process before the November 15, 2016 deadline. The transitional reinsurance fee cannot be extended by the federal government unless authorized by Congress.
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—
The new adjusted PCORI fee is—
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
The new adjusted transition reinsurance fee is—
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