2015 will continue to be a year of catching up on compliance for employers under Health Care Reform.
New reporting obligations under Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Code will require that employers gather information about their employees and dependents and the health plan offerings. Employers will have to send that information to the employees and the IRS.
While the forms are not due until January of 2016, employers would be wise to start putting that information together now as much of the information involves reporting on a monthly basis. Planning ahead would seem to be the best course of action, but that was somewhat undermined by Health and Human Services (HHS) last fall.
Health Plan Identifier
Another requirement under Health Care Reform is that employers file for a Health Plan Identifier (HPID) with HHS. Large plans (those with receipts of $5 million or more) were supposed to apply by November 5, 2014 and smaller plans (less than $5 million in receipts) by November 5, 2015. The process was quite cumbersome and counter intuitive and caused a bit angst among many employers.
However, on October 31, 2014 HHS suddenly announced a reprieve: Employers who had not yet applied for their HPIDs were instructed to postpone that process indefinitely. While the expectation is that the HPID will be required eventually, it is not clear when that mandate will be reinstated.
Like much of Health Care Reform, there are a lot of starts and stops, and employers will have to be aware of the ongoing compliance requirements or find that they may be caught short.
The federal regulators have said informally that they are not looking to make examples of employers and issue heavy sanctions in the first years of PPACA. So, as long as employers are diligent they are unlikely to be hit by penalties. However, those comments are informal and the statute and regulations are less forgiving.
So, employers should continue to be on their guard and attempt to stay as current as possible.