July 10, 2014
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains several temporary annual fees and payments that apply to group health plans and insurers. One such fee, the annual Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Fee is due by July 31, 2014. The PCORI Fee is imposed on plan sponsors of applicable self-insured health plans and issuers of specified health insurance policies. This means that employers who sponsor self-funded plans are responsible for paying this fee, as are insurers of most fully insured policies.
PCORI is intended to help patients, clinicians, payers and the public make informed health decisions by advancing comparative effectiveness research. The research is to be funded, in part, by fees paid by health insurance issuers (including HMOs) and sponsors of self-insured health plans. The PCORI Fee first became effective beginning with plan years ending on or after October 1, 2012 (Generally for plan years beginning November 1, 2011 and ending
October 31, 2012), and will be assessed annually for seven years. The research fees do not apply for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2019. For calendar year plans, the research fees will be effective for the 2012 through 2018 plan years.
The PCORI Fee is considered an excise tax that must be reported on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 720 for the second quarter reporting period. It is due by July 31 of the year following the last day of the plan year being reported on. Payment is to be remitted along with the Form 720 filing and the amount will vary depending on the plan year. PCORI Fee payments were first due July 31, 2013 for plan years ending on or after October 1, 2012 and before January 1, 2013. The July 31, 2014 deadline will be the first year being reported on for many plans, including most plans with non-calendar year plan years.
Not all self-insured plans are subject to the PCORI Fee. Fees are not assessed against most healthcare flexible spending accounts (unless they do not meet the requirements for being an excepted benefit under the ACA), as well as employee assistance, disease management, and wellness programs not providing significant medical care benefits, and plans covering primarily employees working outside the United States. Furthermore, a plan sponsor is able to treat multiple self-insured plans with the same plan year as a single plan for reporting and payment purposes. For example, a plan sponsor with a self-insured plan providing major medical benefits and a separate self-insured plan with the same plan year that provides prescription drug coverage may be considered as a single plan so that the same covered life under each plan is counted only once.
The following table depicts the fee amount payable by the July 31, 2014 filing and payment deadline:
|Plan Year Ending||Fee Amount|
|January 31, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|February 28, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|March 31,2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|April 30, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|May 31, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|June 30, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|July 31, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|August 31, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|September 30, 2013||$1 per avg. # covered lives|
|October 31, 2013||$2 per avg. # covered lives|
|November 30, 2013||$2 per avg. # covered lives|
|December 31, 2013 (calendar year plans)||$2 per avg. # covered lives|
Plan sponsors of self-insured plans may use one of three methodologies for determining the average number of covered lives under the plan for the plan year:
For further information, including links to the final PCORI regulations, questions and answers regarding the PCORI Fee, a chart depicting the types of insurance coverage subject to the fee, and the Form 720, along with instructions, please visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Patient-Centered-Outcomes-Research-Institute-Fee.
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