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Some say streamlined procedures remain overly complex and burdensome
updated on 3/10/2014
The U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service issued two final rules that implement the information-reporting provisions for insurers and self-insured employers that take effect beginning in 2015 under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The rules, Information Reporting by Applicable Large Employers: Health Insurance Coverage Offered Under Employer-Sponsored Plans and Information Reporting of Minimum Essential Coverage, were published in the Federal Register on March 10, 2014.
Although 96 percent of organizations are not subject to ACA reporting requirements or the employer mandate to provide health care coverage because they have fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees, in 2015 requirements begin to phase in for the remaining 4 percent of businesses that are required to offer quality, affordable coverage to workers or pay a penalty.
The final regulations sought to streamline reporting requirements for employers, particularly those that offer highly affordable coverage to their full-time employees. Specifically, the regulations instruct providers of minimum essential health coverage that are subject to the information-reporting requirements of Section 6055 of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted by the ACA, along with certain revisions to increase consistency with previous guidance issued under Section 6056.
The ACA calls for employers and insurers to report information including:
For Internal Revenue Code Section 6055:
For Internal Revenue Code Section 6056:
Single, Combined Form for Information Reporting
"Employers that self-insure will have a streamlined way to report under both the ACA's employer and insurer reporting provisions," according to a Treasury fact sheet. "Responding to widespread requests, the final rules provide for a single, consolidated form that employers will use to report to the IRS and employees under both sections 6055 and 6056, thereby simplifying the process and avoiding duplicative reporting. The combined form will have two sections: the top half includes the information needed for section 6056 reporting, while the bottom half includes the information needed for section 6055."
But some trade groups contend that the regulations are still overly complex and burdensome. "Complying with the ACA reporting requirements will be an extremely daunting task for businesses of all sizes," Christine Pollack, vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), told SHRM Online. "Despite the extensive policy recommendations the retail industry has provided to the administration, the final rules appear to do little to streamline or lessen the administrative burdens of these requirements." RILA had submitted a comment letter last November to the federal agencies outlining its concerns.
Simplified Option for Employer Reporting
As set out under the final regulations:
For businesses that provide a “qualifying offer” to any of their full-time employees, the final rule provides a simplified alternative to reporting monthly employee-specific information on those workers:
The final regulations also give employers the option to avoid identifying in the report which of their workers are full time and instead just to include those employees who may be full time. To take advantage of this option, a company must certify that it offered affordable minimum-value coverage to at least 98 percent of the employees on whom it is reporting.
The final regulations omit data elements in the statute that are not necessary to understanding coverage offered and provided. These include (but are not limited to):
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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