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'Streamlining' proposed for Obamacare employer, insurer reporting

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Newly proposed regulations are intended to implement Obamacare's insurer and employer reporting requirements “in a more streamlined and focused manner,” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.

The agencies say the proposals reflect ongoing dialogue with stakeholders.

Obamacare calls for reporting (under IRS Code section 6055) by insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide health coverage. It also calls for reporting (under Code section 6056) by employers large enough to be subject to the employer mandate.

According to a news release, the proposals include a variety of options “to potentially reduce or streamline” reporting, including the following:

• Replacing section 6056 employee statements with Form W-2 reporting on offers of employer-sponsored coverage to employees, spouses and dependents.

• Eliminating the need to determine whether particular employees are full-time if adequate coverage is offered to all potentially full-time employees.

• Allowing employers to report the specific cost to an employee of purchasing employer-sponsored coverage only if the cost is above a specified dollar amount.

• Allowing self-insured group health plans to avoid furnishing employee statements under both section 6055 and section 6056 by furnishing a single substitute statement.

• Limited reporting for certain self-insured employers offering no-cost coverage to employees and their families.

• Permitting health insurance issuers to forgo reporting under section 6055 on individual coverage offered through a marketplace because that information will be provided by the marketplace.

• Permitting health insurance issuers, employers, and other reporting entities under section 6055 to forgo reporting the specific dates of coverage (instead reporting only the months of coverage), the amount of any cost-sharing reductions, or the portion of the premium paid by an employer.

Comments on the proposals will be accepted through early November. Once the final rules have been published, the agencies encourage voluntary reporting in 2014, in preparation for the full application of the reporting provisions that this summer were delayed until 2015. Real-world testing of reporting systems in 2014, they said, will contribute to a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015.

 

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at heathers@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.

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