ACA News & Publications

Health Care Reform Update - Employer Mandate Penalties Delayed Until 2015

July 3, 2013

The Obama Administration has postponed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer mandate penalties for one year, until 2015. The Department of the Treasury announced the delay on July 2, 2013, along with a similar delay for information reporting by employers, health insurance issuers and self-funded plan sponsors.

The delay does not affect any other provision of the ACA, including individuals' access to premium tax credits for coverage through an Exchange. The Treasury plans to issue more formal information about the delay within a week.

One-Year Implementation Delay

The employer mandate provisions of the ACA are also known as the employer shared responsibility, or pay or play rules. These rules impose penalties on large employers that do not offer affordable, minimum value coverage to their full-time employees and dependents. They were set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

According to the Treasury, the delay of the employer mandate was required because of issues related to the reporting requirement. With the reporting rules delayed, it would be nearly impossible to determine which employers owed penalties under the shared responsibility provisions. Therefore, these payments will not apply for 2014.

The now-delayed reporting requirements are found in Internal Revenue Code sections 6055 and 6056. These rules apply to insurers, self-insuring employers and other parties that provide health coverage, along with certain employers with respect to health coverage offered to their full-time employees. The Administration's decision is based on concerns voiced by businesses about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively.

Effects of the Delay

The additional year will give employers time to understand the employer mandate rules, to make decisions about providing health coverage and to adapt their reporting systems, without worrying about potentially significant penalties. It is unclear how the new deadline will impact guidance that has already been issued, such as the transition relief for non-calendar year plans and the optional safe harbor for determining full-time status.

Future Guidence

The administration plans to use the additional implementation time to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with ACA. The Treasury also plans to discuss the rules with stakeholders, including employers that currently provide health coverage to employees, and then publish proposed rules implementing these provisions later this summer. It is the Treasury's intention to minimize the reporting requirements.

The pay or play regulations issued earlier this year left many unanswered questions for employers. The IRS had highlighted several areas where it would be issuing more guidance. Presumably, the additional time will give the IRS and Treasury the opportunity to provide more comprehensive guidance on implementing these requirements.

Burnham Benefits Insurance Services will continue to monitor developments and will keep you informed of the latest updates.

For More Information
For more information about this ACA Pathways or about any other health care reform-related provisions, please contact your Burnham Benefits consultant or Burnham Benefits at:

Burnham Benefits
949.833.2983
inquiries@burnhambenefits.com


This ACA Pathways is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.

The information contained in this ACA Pathways includes emerging health care news from a limited perspective and does not encompass all views. The information was selected from a wide range of sources selected on the basis of their potential impact on employers and/or their employee benefit plans. For more information, please contact Burnham Benefits.

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