ACA Reporting Due Early 2017

ACA DeadlinesBy Michael Berwanger, JD, Director, Quality Management & Compliance

In early 2017, employers and insurance carriers must report information to employees and the IRS about coverage offered to employees under employer-sponsored health plans during calendar year 2016.

Background

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires self-funded employers to satisfy two reporting obligations under Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code, relating to health coverage offered to employees and about those employees who are covered under the plan.

The purpose of the reporting obligations is to allow the IRS access to data needed to monitor compliance with both the employer and individual mandates. The reporting also may be used by affected employees in assessing their own compliance with the individual mandate and/or in seeking subsidized coverage on the federal and state exchanges established under the ACA (as described in this blog post).

Section 60ACA reporting55 Reporting Compliance

Under Section 6055 of the Internal Revenue Code, all self-funded employers must annually report information to the IRS and to any individual who is covered under a health plan offered by the employer.

Currently, many employers do not have access to Social Security numbers for non-employed dependents, creating a fairly significant compliance burden to collect that data. The regulations require that employers exercise “reasonable collection efforts” to obtain that information. (Typically, an employer will satisfy that standard by documenting at least two efforts to request the data from those individuals). This same information must be reported to employees, along with basic contact information for the employer.

Section 6056 Reporting Compliance

The second reporting obligation, under Code Section 6056, applies only to “Applicable Large Employers.” Applicable Large Employers are those employers with at least 50 full-time equivalent employees and to whom the ACA’s employer mandate applies.

Unlike Section 6055 reporting, all of this information also must be provided separately to each employee, full-time, part-time, or otherwise. You can read helpful IRS guidance about 6056 reporting here.

IRS Forms 1094 and 1095

The compliance obligations are complex, and the IRS has developed forms (Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C, and 1095-C) to provide consistency in reporting and to help simplify the process for employers.

Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) who offer coverage under a self-funded health plan may use Form 1095-C, which combines the reporting obligations of Sections 6055 and 6056 in a single form for reporting to both the IRS and individuals. When the forms are provided to the IRS, the Applicable Large Employer also must submit a transmittal form, Form 1094-C. Forms 1095-C and 1094-C, along with instructions, can be accessed here.

Small employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees are only required to meet one of the reporting obligations, the Minimum Essential Coverage reporting under Section 6055. Small employers may use Form 1095-B, with transmittal Form 1094-B. These forms, along with instructions, can be accessed onACA reporting the IRS web site here.

Changes from reporting year 2015 to 2016 for forms 1094-C and 1095-C can be found here.

Changes from reporting year 2015 to 2016 for forms 1094-B and 1095-B can be found here.

Compliance Deadline

Filings will begin in early 2017 for the 2016 calendar year.

*Form 1095-C must be provided to all employees (full-time, part-time, or otherwise) by March 2, 2017.

*All Forms 1095-C, along with the transmittal form, 1094-C, must be provided to the IRS by February 28, 2017 (if in paper form), or March 31, 2017 (if filed electronically). 

Note: Employers filing more than 250 information returns (Form 1095-C) must do so electronically.MedCost

To print this article, click on the title and scroll to “PRINT THIS PAGE” at the bottom.

Health Costs Up 6% for Big Employers in 2017

Big employers expect health costs to continue rising by about 6 percent in 2017, a moderate increase compared with historical trends that nevertheless far outpaces growth in the economy, two new surveys show.

These cost increases, while stable, are both unsustainable and unacceptable,” said Brian Marcotte, CEO of the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), a coalition of very large employers that got responses from 133 companies.

Employers are changing tactics to address the trend, slowing the shift to worker cost sharing and instead offering video or telephone links to doctors, scrutinizing specialty-drug costs and steering patients to hospitals with records of lower costs and better results.

Most large-company employees should expect a 5 percent increase in their premiums next year and, in contrast to previous years, “minimal changes” to plan designs, NBGH said.

(Kaiser Health NewsJay Hancock, August 9, 2016)
Kaiser Health News

What to Do If You Receive This Notice

By Michael Berwanger, JD, Director, Quality Management & Compliance

You may receive a notice from the Health Insurance Marketplace or an Exchange regarding former or current employees who received a tax credit on an exchange. (Click here to view a redacted notice example.)

If you receive such a notice, this communication summarizes the purpose of the notice, why you as an employer are receiving the notice, and what you may need to do in response to the notice. For more information, a detailed Question and Answer document has been provided by the IRS here.

What are the notices?

The notices from the Exchanges are in connection to the employer shared responsibility provisions, sometimes referred to as pay or play” tax provisions, and notify the employer about individual(s) who:

(1) have received a premium tax credit to purchase health insurance on the Exchange, and

(2) who reported the name of their employer during the tax credit application process.

These notices are part of the Exchange verification process under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) for determining eligibility for premium tax credits and reduced cost-sharing, and for exemption from the individual mandate tax.

Why would an employer receive these notices?

Tax form & glassesUnder the ACA, certain employers (those with at least 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalents, also known as applicable large employers) might have to pay an employer shared responsibility payment for any month that at least one full-time employee enrolled in Marketplace coverage and received an advanced premium tax credit, or cost sharing reduction. You can read about eligibility thresholds here.

Individuals are only eligible for tax credits on the Health Insurance Marketplace/Exchange if they do not have minimum essential coverage available through their employer, or they are not offered affordable minimum value employer coverage. (Additionally, they must meet specified income and US residency requirements). Thus, employees who have affordable employer coverage available should not qualify for subsidies to buy health insurance in the Exchange.

As part of the application process for a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction, an applicant may submit to the Exchange that their employer:

  • did not offer coverage to the employee while employed by the employer,
  • the employer provided coverage but it was not “affordable” or did not provide “minimum value”, or
  • the employee was in a waiting period and unable to enroll in health care coverage. (Please see IRS Notice 2012-58 for an explanation of waiting period rules).

If an Exchange determines that an applicant is eligible to receive an advanced premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction, and that finding was based at least in part on the above factors, the Marketplace will likely investigate to determine if the employer must pay an employer shared responsibility payment.

Why should an employer pay attention to these notices?

In 2016, employers with at least 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalents are subject to “play-or-pay” penalties if at least one full-time employee receives a subsidy to buy insurance in an Exchange. These notices from the Exchanges alert employers that some of their employees have qualified for premium tax credits and the employer faces potential penalties. Please note that only the IRS, not the Marketplace, can determine whether an employer will owe an employer shared responsibility payment.

health insurance noticesThe notice provides a 90-day response window from the date stated on the notice. Thus, employers will want to respond to the Exchange if they did offer a particular employee coverage that was affordable and provided minimum value, or if the notice is otherwise inaccurate.

What should employers do if they receive a notice?

Employers are not required to respond to Exchange notices, but it will be in an employer’s best interest to respond if the notice is regarding a full-time employee who was actually offered coverage, or if the employee misreported information and was not actually entitled to coverage. If you choose to appeal the notice, you can do so here, at the HealthCare.gov website. Any responses must be made within the 90-day verification process time. Please note that it is likely Exchanges will send notices to whatever employer address the employee provided on his/her application for Exchange coverage.

How can an employer file an appeal?

Employers have 90 days from the date stated on the notice from the Marketplace to file an appeal. This appeal can be filed either by:

  • Completing the Employer Appeal Request Form or:
  • Submitting a letter with the following information:
    • Business name
    • Employer ID Number (EIN)
    • Employer’s primary contact name, phone number and address
    • The reason for the appeal
    • Information from the Marketplace notice received, including date and employee information

Mail the appeal request form or letter, along with a copy of the Marketplace notice, to the following address, or fax the documents to 1-877-369-0129:

Department of Health and Human Services
Health Insurance Marketplace
465 Industrial Blvd.
London, KY 40750-0061

Information supporting your appeal may be included.MedCost

This blog post should not be considered as legal advice. For more information, consult your broker, legal advisor or the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Employer Benefit First Offered by NASA

The first place this employer benefit was offered wasn’t even on planet Earth.telemedicine employers

The idea to assess human health from afar started with NASA in the early 1960’s. Both American and Russian doctors were concerned that astronauts might lose circulation and other functions in space. The first telemedicine was practiced on animals attached to medical monitors while orbiting Earth.

TV viewers became familiar with live updates on astronauts’ heart rates, breathing and temperature during space flights. And the technology has translated right into employer benefit plans for medical care for onsite and offsite workers.

Over 15 million Americans obtained medical care remotely in 2015,[i] and the American Telemedicine Association anticipates 30% growth in 2016. Employers have picked up on the cost savings and convenience—nearly 75% of large employers plan to offer telemedicine as a health plan benefit in states that regulate this method, up from 48% in 2015.[ii]

telemedicine employers

Why Telemedicine?

Employers are searching for ways to contain the spiraling costs of health care. The ability for employees to make a call or have a video conference with a board-certified doctor within minutes brings both convenience and less time away from work. A recent analysis by Willis Towers Watch estimated that as much as $6 billion per year could be saved by U. S. companies using telemedicine.[iii]

Where the Savings Come From

Employers are seeing the need to educate employees about the best medical options for every health need. Some fevers, headaches, sore throats and other minor symptoms are appropriate for a telemed call (see “Treatment Alternatives to the Emergency Room”). Average cost: $45.

Compare the cost of a telemed call with an average primary care doctor visit: $145. Or the average cost of an ER visit: $1,316. [iv] Your employees with commutes to work may have to travel longer distances for in-person visits—time also lost in productivity. And many employees allow conditions to worsen before seeking treatment, resulting in even higher expense and time away from work.

“Over 400 million visits a year are appropriate
for telehealth.”

 – Jason Gorevic, Teladoc CEO, NJTV News

Managing Costs in a Complex Environment

As responsibility for paying health bills shifts to the employee, 24/7 services such as Teladoc becometelemedicine employers an increasingly attractive option for appropriate levels of medical care. A board-certified doctor is always available with a cell phone callback, even if an employee is on vacation or lives in a rural area where medical access is more limited.

MedCost clients who use Teladoc have already saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2016, avoiding more expensive treatment centers and lost hours at work.

Looming in employers’ minds is the Affordable Care Act’s Cadillac tax, now postponed until 2020. This 40% excise tax would trigger when an employer offers health benefits above $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family.

Employers have already begun to raise employee deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, not included in the value of a health policy.

Summary

Some large employers such as JetBlue Airways are installing telemed kiosks at their workplaces, harnessing technology innovations for immediate care.[v] The Department of Veteran Affairs provided telemedicine employerstelemed services to more than 675,000 veterans in fiscal 2015. Employees who are used to searching for restaurants and shopping deals on cell phones will increasingly call a doctor to get routine medical care.

And it won’t even require a trip to outer space to get it.

 

[i] Melinda Beck, “How Telemedicine Is Transforming Health Care, Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-telemedicine-is-transforming-health-care-1466993402 (accessed July 14, 2016)

[ii] National Business Group on Health, “Health Care Benefits Cost Increases to Hold Steady in 2016,” August 12, 2015, https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/pressroom/pressRelease.cfm?ID=263 (accessed July 18, 2016)

[iii] Willis Towers Watson, “Current Telemedicine Technology Could Mean Big Savings,” August 11, 2014, https://www.towerswatson.com/en-US/Press/2014/08/current-telemedicine-technology-could-mean-big-savings (accessed July 15, 2016)

[iv] Sabrina Rodak, “Study: 71% of ED Visits Unnecessary, Avoidable,” Becker’s Hospital Review, April 25, 2013, http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/capacity-management/study-71-of-ed-visits-unnecessary-avoidable.html (accessed February 23, 2016)

[v] Phil Galewitz, “Kaiser: Your Doctor Will See You Now,” June 20, 2016, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/06/18/kaiser-how-far-telemedicine-has-come/86084092/ (accessed July 18, 2016)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Launches Employer Verification Study

By Michael Berwanger, JD, Director, Quality Management & Compliance

From April 2016 through June 2016, CMS will be contacting some employers, either by phone or letter, to request information about the Employer-Sponsored Coverage (ESC) offered to employees for the 2016 plan year.Employer health benefits, health care, employee claims

The purpose of this verification study is to evaluate whether an employee, or a sample of employees, receiving a premium subsidy for an exchange product correctly attested that he or she was not offered ESC that met affordability and minimum value requirements for plan year 2016.

While CMS has not articulated how large the sample size for the verification study will be, it is possible that some MedCost clients may be contacted. Employers will be asked to provide information regarding the lowest-cost self-only health plan that they offered for plan year 2016, as well as their employees’ eligibility for employer-sponsored coverage. If contacted by phone, calls are expected to last 10-15 minutes. Click here to view a sample of the 2016 Employer Notice letter you may receive.

CMS, employer verification studyThe study is taking place as part of efforts by HHS to meet certain “verification” requirements related to its administration of the ACA exchanges. The study is designed to help ensure that only individuals who do not otherwise have access to an “affordable/minimum value” plan outside the exchange receive subsidized coverage on the exchanges. Participation by employers in this study is voluntary.

For more detailed information regarding the Employer Verification Study, click here.

EEOC Issues Final Employer Wellness Rules

By Michael Berwanger, JD, Director, Quality Management & Compliance

ThEEOC, employer wellness program, wellness program, ACA, GINAe U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued final rules yesterday that describe how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) apply to wellness programs offered by employers that request health information from employees and their spouses. The two rules provide guidance to both employers and employees about how workplace wellness programs can comply with the ADA and GINA consistent with provisions governing wellness programs in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act. The final rules, largely consistent with the proposed rules from last year, go into effect January 1, 2017.

The rules permit wellness programs to operate to improve employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination. As stated in the EEOC press release:

Both rules seek to ensure wellness programs actually promote good health and are not just used to collect or sell sensitive medical information about employees and family members or to impermissibly shift health insurance costs to them. The rules permit wellness programs to operate consistent with their stated purpose of improving employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination.

In addition to publishing the final ADA and GINA rules in the Federal Register, the EEOC has published question-and-answer documents on both rules today, available at ADA Q&A  and GINA Q&A.

The EEOC also has published two fact sheet documents for small businesses—an ADA Small Business Fact Sheet and a GINA Small Business Fact Sheet. For more on the press release, please see https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5-16-16.cfm

 

IRS Announces 2017 HSA Contribution Limits

By Michael Berwanger, JD, Director, Quality Management & Compliance

The IRS has released the 2017 cost-of-living adjusted limits for health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). The only change from 2016 is a $50 increase in the annual HSA contribution limit for individuals with self-only HDHP coverage. All of the other amounts are unchanged from 2016.

HSA, HSAs, HDHP, HDHPs, 2017 contributions

 

For guidance on HSAs, please review the IRS frequently asked questions page at https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/ar02.html or contact Jason at jclarke@medcost.com.

 

*Rev. Proc. 2016-28 (Apr. 28, 2016), available at https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-16-28.pdf
**Rev. Proc. 2015-30 (May 5, 2015), available at https://www.irs.gov/irb/2015-20_IRB/ar07.html

 

How to Fill Out IRS Forms 1094/1095

By MedCost General Counsel Brad Roehrenbeck, JD

1094-C tax form

Employers heard some good news when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended deadlines for reporting 2015 forms 1094/1095 (see “IRS Extends Deadline for 2015 ACA Reporting”).

Concerned about meeting this first year of Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements? MedCost General Counsel Brad Roehrenbeck gives step-by-step instructions about how to fill out IRS forms 1094 and 1095 in a free webinar offered here.

Small self-funded employers (those with less than 50 full-time equivalent employees) are only required to meet one of the two ACA-mandated reporting obligations. Specifically, small self-funded employers must meet the Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) reporting obligation, by reporting on individuals to whom they have provided health coverage during 2015 using Forms 1094-B and 1095-B.

On the other hand, Applicable Large Employers (ALE)—those with more than 50 full-time (equivalent) employees—must report additional information beyond that included in the MEC reporting required of small employers. The IRS has developed a single set of forms (Forms 1094-C and 1095-C) that can be used by Applicable Large Employers to meet all of their reporting requirements.

These ACA-mandated reporting obligations are designed to document compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s two flagship mandates – the individual and employer mandates.

DeWebinar buttonadlines are soon approaching to file these forms. For more information, watch this webinar on 1094/1095 reporting.