In an unexpected announcement pre-July 4th the big news was Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed with penalties under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until 2015. The mandate also known as the “Employer Shared Responsibility” requires employers with 50 or more FTEs to offer affordable health insurance coverage to their workers or face financial penalties for not doing so. Those penalties would originally have been applied beginning in 2014.
There has been a follow up guidance issued last week July 9th by the IRS. According to the IRS, the delay will give employers more time to prepare for the change in how health insurance is provided and will also give the Obama Administration time to simplify the insurance-related reporting requirements that employers face. This transition relief appears to come with “no strings attached.” Although the IRS guidance encourages employers to voluntarily comply with the employer mandate and maintain or expand health care coverage in 2014, the IRS will not impose penalties for a failure to do so.
Although the IRS guidance encourages employers to voluntarily comply with the employer mandate and maintain or expand health care coverage in 2014, the IRS will not impose penalties for a failure to do so.Notably, the guidance issued on July 9th also does not require employers to make “good faith” efforts to comply. As a result of this transition year, employers will have the option of deciding to what extent (if any) they will continue efforts to comply with the employer mandate during 2014.
Employers who intended to rely on one of the transition rules previously announced for 2014 should keep in mind that the latest IRS guidance does not provide special transition rules for 2015. Other group health plan requuirements still apply as discussed in our prior blog Essential Health Benefits Not Delayed.
This means that for plan years beginning on and after January 1, 2014, all group health plans must:
Eliminate all pre-existing condition exclusions (regardless of age);
Maximum Cost Sharing Deductible to $2,000/individual ($4,000/family); limit in-network out-of-pocket maximums to $6,350/individual ($12,700/family)
Individual Mandate Still Applies. individuals will still be required to obtain health care coverage or pay a penalty for each month they do not have coverage, beginning January 1, 2014
Exchanges (Marketplaces) Open for Enrollment October 1, 2013.
The IRS notice makes it clear that individuals who enroll in coverage on the marketplaces will continue to be eligible for a premium tax credit if their household income is within a specified range and they are not eligible for other minimum essential coverage.
Employers Must Send Notice of Exchanges (Marketplaces) Before October 1, 2013. These notices must be sent to current employees by October 1, 2013. Then, beginning October 1, 2013, employers must send this notice to new hires within 14 days of their start date.
New taxes still apply – Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) excise taxes and transitional reinsurance program fees;HRA/HSA/FSA clients also pay a monthly $1/employee tax.
We will continue to monitor ACA developments and will provide you relevant updated information when available. In the meantime, please visit to view past blogs and Legislative Alerts at https://360peo.com/feed.
With only 6 month away from full implementation of 2014 Patient Protection Affordability Care Act (PPACA) employers are understandably uncertain. Below are Health Care reform – five things employers can do now to prepare and take action.
UPDATE JULY 2nd: Since blog posting the President Administration has delayed 1 year Employed Shared Responsibility Mandate i.e. Pay or Play to Jan 2015.
1. Employee Communications
Employers must notify employees of the online insurance marketplace known as a Healthcare Exchange. Recently released federal guidelines require employers to notify their workers of eligibility requirements for their state exchange starting Oct. 1, 2013 Open Enrollments for Jan 2014 effective date. To the relief of many, the U.S. Labor Department also provided model notices that employers can give to their workers, which eliminates the need to develop their own notifications.
Additionally, Employers sponsoring a health plan must give employees a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). The purpose of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage, or SBC, is to present benefits and coverage information in clear language and in a consistent format. Inspired by the Nutrition Facts Label on packaged food, theSBC (pdf) includes two medical scenarios: having a baby and managing Type II diabetes. It estimates how much a patient would pay for medical care in each scenario with specific insurance plans.
It’s the employer’s responsibility to distribute the SBCs to employees.
This requirement applies to health plan renewals after Sept. 23, 2012.
Department of Labor will NOT impose penalties for non-compliance with the SBC notice during the first year as long as employers show a “good faith” effort to comply. Read the FAQ on SBC and ACA pdf here.
2. Determining which Employers must offer health care.
Because employers with 50 full-time equivalents face penalties for not providing affordable, minimum value insurance an employer should know whether it is subject to these requirements or not. Common law employees of the employer and any commonly controlled company must be counted. Employers with temporary or leased employees will want to discuss with their advisors whether these employees will be considered “common law employees” for purposes of determining how many FTEs an employer has. Employers with employees who are paid based on unique payment models (stipends, work product, etc) will want to discuss how to calculate these employee hours with their benefits advisors.
Employers with 50 or more employees will incur penalties of up to $2,000 per employee if they cancel their existing health care program (which up until 2014 would be considered an optional benefit to provide). They will also incur penalties if their plan is too costly, and they do not meet the affordability standards.
Employers with less than 50 employees will not incur penalties if they cancel their health care plan, and that decision will need to be made on a business by business basis. They can also choose to offer partial coverage and contribute up to the minimum 50% of single coverage not to exceed 9.5% employee
The good news is Employers can subtract 30 FT employees. This portion is known as the Employer “play or pay” option. Specific case example and details are found at Pay or Play Employer Guide.
To encourage businesses to offer health benefits to their employees, the federal government is offering tax credits to small businesses. These credits are available to an estimated 4 million small businesses, including nonprofits.The IRS has set up a web page with information: Small Business Health Care Tax Credit for Small Employers. The maximum “credit” (which offsets taxes dollar for dollar and is better than a “deduction” which reduces taxable income) is 35 percent of the amount an employer pays towards employee health insurance.
To qualify, small employers must:
Have fewer than the equivalent of 25 full-time workers
Pay average annual wages below $50,000
Cover at least 50% of the cost of health care coverage for their workers
Because of the high wages paid in most industries in NY/NJ/CT Tri State, few small employers that provide coverage pay such a low average wage. Note, however, that the calculation of average wages and number of employees excludes the wages of an owner and his or her family members.
medicalsolutionscorp.com help clients gather the appropriate information and do a preliminary estimate of the credit amount. This information will help you and your accountant determine whether applying for the credit makes financial sense. Find out what the new tax credit could mean for your coverage. Call us at 855-667-4621.
4. Determine affordability
Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, an employer with 50 or more employees must pay a tax penalty if they either: a) Do not provide health insurance with minimum benefits or 60 percent of healthcare expenses; b) Require employees to contribute more than 9.5 percent of an employee’s household income for the health insurance and those employees obtain a government subsidy for coverage.
Companies will be required to pay $3,000 per employee without affordable coverage. (Note: there are a number of caveats that might affect the actual penalty paid, so consult your tax advisor.)
It is crucial to Understand the difference between FT and Full Time Equivalent. To determine the FTE (Full Time Equivalent) you must count FT and PT employees. Full Time Employees are those working 30 hours+/week.* The number of full-time employees excludes those full-time seasonal employees who work for less than 120 days during the year.4 The hours worked by part-time employees (i.e., those working less than 30 hours per week) are included in the calculation of a large employer, on a monthly basis, by taking their total number of monthly hours worked divided by 120.
For example, a firm has 35 full-time employees (30+ hours). In addition, the firm has 20 part time employees who all work 24 hours per week (96 hours per month). These part-time employees’ hours would be treated as equivalent to 16 full-time employees, based on the following calculation:
20 employees x 96 hours / 120 = 1920 / 120 = 16
Thus, in this example, the firm would be considered a “large employer,” based on a total full-time equivalent count of 51—that is, 35 full-time employees plus 16 full-time equivalents based on part-time hours.
In the coming months, Millennium Medical Solutions Inc will host seminars and will share information you’ll need to know as the countdown continues to October 1st. [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
This blog is not intended to represent legal advise and one should consult with a tax and/or legal expert.
* IRC 4980H(c)(4)
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to represent legal advise and one should consult with a tax and/or legal expert.
After a six-month delay in the original effective date, group health plans (including grandfathered plans) will soon need to comply with a new requirement under Health Care Reform to provide a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) so that employees can more easily compare insurance options.
The new SBC notice requirements are effective for plan years and open enrollment periods beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2012. If you need a refresher, the following are some key points for group health plans:
An SBC must be provided to plan enrollees at specific times, such as upon application for coverage and at renewal, as well as upon request.
Insured group health plans can satisfy the requirement if the issuer provides a timely and complete SBC to the participant or beneficiary.
Combining information for different coverage tiers, different cost-sharing selections (such as levels of deductibles and copayments), and different add-ons to major medical coverage (such as FSAs, HRAs, HSAs, or wellness programs) into one SBC is permissible, provided the appearance is understandable.
SBCs may be provided either as a stand-alone document or in combination with other summary materials (for example, an SPD), if the SBC information is intact and prominently displayed at the beginning of the materials and in accordance with the SBC timing requirements.
The SBC must comply with certain appearance and format requirements and must use terminology understandable by the average plan enrollee; an SBC template along with instructions and related materials that may be used to satisfy the notice requirements, is available online.
The U.S. Department of Labor has released three sets of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which address a number of issues relating to the SBC notice requirements. The FAQs also make clear that, during the first year of applicability of the new SBC rules, penalties will not be imposed on plans that are working diligently and in good faith to provide the required content in an appearance that is consistent with the final regulations.