LIVE WELL, WORK WELL NEWSLETTER – March, 2018

Click Here to Download: Live Well, Work Well – March 2018

This Deadly Flu Season is the Worst in Nearly a Decade

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2017-18 flu season is more intense than any other since the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Unfortunately, the CDC says this flu season is going to get worse.

In addition to the increasing number of individuals falling ill with the flu, the hospitalization rate for the flu has jumped. This year’s dominant virus, H3N2, has been around for 50 years, but it is usually the most lethal of the seasonal strains.

As a result, the CDC urges those who haven’t yet gotten the flu vaccine to do so, as it is the best way to prevent the flu. Because some doctors and pharmacies have run out of vaccines, check here to find out where you can obtain your vaccination.

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Eating a well-balanced diet is a key component in living a long, healthy life. Many Americans think that eating healthy means they have to empty their wallets, which isn’t necessarily the truth. Keep the following money-saving tips in mind next time you’re grocery shopping:

  1. Make a weekly meal plan. Before you go to the store, think about what meals and snacks you want for the week. Read recipes thoroughly so you can make an accurate list of everything you need, reducing the risk that you’ll have to run back to the store later in the week.
  2. Create a list—and stick to it. Make a detailed list of what you need to buy before you go to the store. When you get to the store, don’t buy anything besides what’s on the list.
  3. Plan where you’re going to shop. Many grocery stores run sales or offer coupons on various healthy foods. Check out the ads and plan your grocery list around what’s on sale.
  4. Shop seasonally. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually easier to get and may be a lot less expensive. Click here for a list of what’s in season.
  5. Cook at home as often as possible. Many foods prepared at home are cheaper and more nutritious. Go back to the basics and find a few simple and healthy recipes that your family enjoys.

Sleep and Your Health

The National Sleep Foundation sponsors Sleep Awareness Week every March to educate Americans on the importance of sleep to their overall health and well-being. The CDC has linked insufficient sleep to the development of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. In honor of Sleep Awareness Week occurring this March 11-17, try adopting the following five healthy sleep habits:

  1. Keep a regular schedule—try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends.
  2. Create a good sleep environment, including comfortable room temperature, minimal noise and sufficient darkness.
  3. Keep track of habits that help you fall asleep, like relaxing music or reading before bed. Repeat those activities each night.
  4. Avoid caffeine and nicotine three to four hours before going to bed.
  5. Limit alcohol before bed, as it can reduce sleep quality.
 We all love healthy Recipes: Here’s one you’re sure to enjoy!
One Pan Potatoes & Chicken

4 medium potatoes

1 pound chicken breast (boned and skinned)

2 Tbsp. oil

1 cup salsa

1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn (drained)

 

PREPARATIONS

1.       Cut potatoes into ¾-inch cubes.

2.       Cook potatoes over medium-high heat until fork-tender. Remove from pan.

3.       Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Brown the chicken for 5 minutes.

4.       Add the potatoes back into the pan and cook until lightly browned.

5.       Add salsa and corn. Cook until heated through.

6.       Serve warm.

 

Makes: 6 servings

 

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Total Calories 285
Total Fat 7 g
Protein 21 g
Carbohydrates 35 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Sodium 316 mg
Total Sugars 3 g

 

Source: USDA

 

 

FURNISHING DEADLINE DELAYED FOR 2017 ACA REPORTING

Click Here to Download the Full Article: Furnishing Deadline Delayed for 2017 ACA Reporting

On Dec. 22, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2018-06 to:

  • Extend the due date for furnishing forms under Sections 6055 and 6056 for 2017 for 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018; and
  • Extend good-faith transition relief from penalties related to 2017 information reporting under Sections 6055 and 6056.

Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing forms with the IRS for 2017. The due date for filing with the IRS under Sections 6055 and 6056 remains Feb. 28, 2018 (April 2, 2018, if filing electronically).

ACTION STEPS

The IRS is encouraging reporting entities to furnish statements as soon as they are able. No request or other documentation is required to take advantage of the extended deadline.

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting

Sections 6055 and 6056 were added to the Internal Revenue Code (Code) by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

  • Section 6055 applies to providers of minimum essential coverage (MEC), such as health insurance issuers and employers with self-insured health plans. These entities will generally use Forms 1094-B and 1095-B to report information about the coverage they provided during the previous year.
  • Section 6056 applies to applicable large employers (ALEs)­­—generally, those employers with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, in the previous year. ALEs will use Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report information relating to the health coverage that they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees.

Extended Furnishing Deadline

The IRS has again determined that some employers, insurers and other providers of MEC need additional time to gather and analyze the information and prepare the 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to be furnished to individuals. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 provides an additional 30 days for furnishing the 2017 Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C, extending the due date from Jan. 31, 2018, to March 2, 2018.

Despite the delay, employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish 2017 statements to individuals as soon as they are able.

Filers are not required to submit any request or other documentation to the IRS to take advantage of the extended furnishing due date provided by Notice 2018-06. Because this extended furnishing deadline applies automatically to all reporting entities, the IRS will not grant additional extensions of time of up to 30 days to furnish Forms 1095-B and 1095-C. As a result, the IRS will not formally respond to any requests that have already been submitted for 30-day extensions of time to furnish statements for 2017.

Impact on Filing Deadline

The IRS has determined that there is no need for additional time for employers, insurers and other providers of MEC to file 2017 forms with the IRS. Therefore, Notice 2018-06 does not extend the due date for filing Forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C or 1095-C with the IRS for 2017. This due date remains:

  • February 28, 2018, if filing on paper; or
  • April 2, 2018, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2018, is a Saturday).

Because the due dates are unchanged, potential automatic extensions of time for filing information returns are still available under the normal rules by submitting a Form 8809. The notice also does not affect the rules regarding additional extensions of time to file under certain hardship conditions.

Employers or other coverage providers that do not meet the due dates for filing and furnishing (as extended under the rules described above) under Sections 6055 and 6056 are subject to penalties under Section 6722 or Section 6721 for failure to furnish and file on time. However, employers and other coverage providers that do not meet the relevant due dates should still furnish and file. The IRS will take this into consideration when determining whether to abate penalties for reasonable cause.

Impact on Individuals

Because of the extended furnishing deadline, some individual taxpayers may not receive a Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C by the time they are ready to file their 2017 tax returns. Taxpayers may rely on other information received from their employer or other coverage provider for purposes of filing their returns, including determining eligibility for an Exchange subsidy and confirming that they had MEC for purposes of the individual mandate.

Taxpayers do not need to wait to receive Forms 1095-B and 1095-C before filing their 2017 returns. In addition, individuals do not need to send the information they relied upon to the IRS when filing their returns, but should keep it with their tax records.

Extension of Good-faith Transition Relief from Penalties for 2017

Notice 2018-06 also extends transition relief from penalties for providing incorrect or incomplete information to reporting entities that can show that they have made good-faith efforts to comply with the Sections 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements for 2017 (both for furnishing to individuals and for filing with the IRS).

This relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided for reporting entities that:

  • Do not make a good-faith effort to comply with the regulations; or
  • Fail to file an information return or furnish a statement by the due dates (as extended).

In determining good faith, the IRS will take into account whether a reporting entity made reasonable efforts to prepare for reporting the required information to the IRS and furnishing it to individuals (such as gathering and transmitting the necessary data to an agent to prepare the data for submission to the IRS or testing its ability to transmit information to the IRS). The IRS will also take into account the extent to which the reporting entity is taking steps to ensure that it will be able to comply with the reporting requirements for 2018.

Individual Mandate Penalty Will Be Eliminated in 2019

Click Here to download the full document: Individual Mandate Penalty Will Be Eliminated in 2019

On Dec. 22, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, after it passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

This tax reform bill makes significant changes to the federal tax code. The bill does not impact the majority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) tax provisions. However, it does reduce the ACA’s individual shared responsibility (or individual mandate) penalty to zero, effective beginning in 2019.

As a result, beginning in 2019, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage.

ACTION STEPS

‎Although the tax reform bill eliminates the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, this repeal does not become effective until 2019.

As a result, individuals continue to be required to comply with the mandate (or pay a penalty) for 2017 and 2018. A failure to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for these years may still result in a penalty for the individual.

‎The Individual Mandate

The ACA’s individual mandate, which took effect in 2014, requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members or pay a penalty. The mandate is enforced each year on individual federal tax returns. Starting in 2015, individuals filing a tax return for the previous tax year indicate, by checking a box on their returns, which members of their family (including themselves) had health insurance coverage for the year (or qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate). Based on this information, the IRS then assesses a penalty for each nonexempt family member without coverage.

Effect of the Tax Reform Bill

The tax reform bill will reduce the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to zero, effective beginning with the 2019 tax year. This effectively eliminates the individual mandate penalty for the 2019 tax year and beyond. As a result, beginning with the 2019 tax year, individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family members.

Impact on Years Prior to 2019

Although the tax reform bill eliminates the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, this repeal does not take effect until 2019. As a result, individuals continue to be required to comply with the mandate (or pay a penalty) for 2017 and 2018. A failure to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage for these years may still result in a penalty for the individual.

Therefore, nonexempt individuals should continue to maintain acceptable health coverage in 2017 and 2018, and should indicate on their 2017 and 2018 tax returns whether they (and everyone in their family):

  • Had health coverage for the year;
  • Qualified for an exemption from the individual mandate; or
  • Will pay an individual mandate penalty.

In addition, keep in mind that individuals who are liable for a penalty for failing to obtain acceptable health coverage in 2018 will be required to pay that penalty when they file their federal income taxes in 2019. As a result, some individuals may be required to pay the individual mandate penalty in early 2019, based on their noncompliance for the 2018 tax year.

Effect on Other ACA Provisions

Despite the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, employers and individuals must continue to comply with all other ACA provisions. The tax reform bill does not impact any other ACA provisions, including the Cadillac tax on high-cost group health coverage, the PCORI fees and the health insurance providers fee. In addition, the employer shared responsibility (pay or play) rules and related Section 6055 and Section 6056 reporting requirements are still in place.

As always, Clark & Associates will keep you updated The Individual Mandate as any further changes transpire.

Annual Compliance Deadlines for Health Plans

Click Here to Download the Full Article: Annual Compliance Deadlines for Health Plans

Employers that provide group health plan coverage to their employees are subject to numerous compliance requirements throughout the year, such as requirements for reporting, participant disclosure and certain fee payments. Some of these requirements have been in existence for many years (for example, the Form 5500), while others have been added more recently by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
This Compliance Overview contains a high-level summary of the various compliance requirements and associated deadlines that health plan sponsors should be aware of throughout the year. It also summarizes annual notice requirements for group health plans. Please note that certain deadlines for non-calendar year plans may vary from what is outlined below.

Calendar Year Deadlines

This chart only addresses recurring calendar year compliance deadlines. The chart does not include other requirements that are not based on the calendar year. For example, a plan administrator must provide a COBRA Election Notice to a qualified beneficiary after a qualifying event occurs. This type of notice requirement is not addressed in the chart below. Also, state laws may impose additional obligations. Users of this chart should refer to the specific federal or state law at issue for complete information.

JANUARY
DEADLINE REQUIREMENT DESCRIPTION
Jan. 31 Form W-2 Deadline for providing Forms W-2 to employees. The ACA requires employers to report the aggregate cost of employer-sponsored group health plan coverage on their employees’ Forms W-2. The purpose is to provide employees with information on how much their health coverage costs. Certain types of coverage are not required to be reported on Form W-2.

This Form W-2 reporting requirement is currently optional for small employers (those who file fewer than 250 Forms W-2). Employers that file 250 or more Forms W-2 are required to comply with the ACA’s reporting requirement.

Jan. 31

 

Form 1095-C or Form 1095-B—Annual Statement to Individuals Applicable large employers (ALEs) subject to the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules must furnish Form 1095-C (Section 6056 statements) annually to their full-time employees. Employers with self-insured health plans that are not ALEs must furnish Form 1095-B (Section 6055 statements) annually to covered employees.

The Forms 1095-B and 1095-C are due on or before Jan. 31 of the year immediately following the calendar year to which the statements relate. Extensions may be available in certain limited circumstances. However, an alternate deadline generally is not available for ALEs that sponsor non-calendar year plans.

FEBRUARY                                            
DEADLINE REQUIREMENT DESCRIPTION
Feb. 28

(March 31, if filing electronically)

 

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting Under Section 6056, ALEs subject to the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules are required to report information to the IRS about the health coverage they offer (or do not offer) to their full-time employees. ALEs must file Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C with the IRS annually.

Under Section 6055, self-insured plan sponsors are required to report information about the health coverage they provided during the year. Self-insured plan sponsors must generally file Form 1094-B and Form 1095-B with the IRS annually.

ALEs that sponsor self-insured plans are required to report information to the IRS under Section 6055 about health coverage provided, as well as information under Section 6056 about offers of health coverage. ALEs that sponsor self-insured plans will generally use a combined reporting method on Form 1094-C and Form 1095-C to report information under both Sections 6055 and 6056.

All forms must be filed with the IRS annually, no later than Feb. 28 (March 31, if filed electronically) of the year following the calendar year to which the return relates. Reporting entities that are filing 250 or more returns must file electronically. There is no alternate filing date for employers with non-calendar year plans.

MARCH
DEADLINE REQUIREMENT DESCRIPTION
March 1 (calendar year plans) Medicare Part D Disclosure to CMS Group health plan sponsors that provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare Part D eligible individuals must disclose to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) whether prescription drug coverage is creditable or not. In general, a plan’s prescription drug coverage is considered creditable if its actuarial value equals or exceeds the actuarial value of the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Disclosure is due:

  •  Within 60 days after the beginning of each plan year;
  • Within 30 days after the termination of a plan’s prescription drug coverage; and
  • Within 30 days after any change in the plan’s creditable coverage status.

Plan sponsors must use the online disclosure form on the CMS Creditable Coverage webpage.

 JULY                      

DEADLINE REQUIREMENT DESCRIPTION
July 31 PCORI Fee Deadline for filing IRS Form 720 and paying Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) fees for the previous year. For insured health plans, the issuer of the health insurance policy is responsible for the PCORI fee payment. For self-insured plans, the PCORI fee is paid by the plan sponsor.
July 31 (calendar year plans) Form 5500 Plan administrators of ERISA employee benefit plans must file Form 5500 by the last day of the seventh month following the end of the plan year, unless an extension has been granted. Form 5500 reports information on a plan’s financial condition, investments and operations. Form 5558 is used to apply for an extension of two and one-half months to file Form 5500.

Small health plans (fewer than 100 participants) that are fully insured, unfunded or a combination of insured/unfunded, are generally exempt from the Form 5500 filing requirement.

The DOL’s website and the latest Form 5500 instructions provide information on who is required to file and detailed information on filing.

SEPTEMBER
DEADLINE REQUIREMENT DESCRIPTION
Sept. 30 Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) Rebates The deadline for issuers to pay medical loss ratio (MLR) rebates for the 2014 reporting year and beyond is Sept. 30. The ACA requires health insurance issuers to spend at least 80 to 85 percent of their premiums on health care claims and health care quality improvement activities. Issuers that do not meet the applicable MLR percentage must pay rebates to consumers.

Also, if the rebate is a “plan asset” under ERISA, the rebate should, as a general rule, be used within three months of when it is received by the plan sponsor. Thus, employers who decide to distribute the rebate to participants should make the distributions within this three-month time limit.

Sept. 30 (calendar year plans) Summary Annual Report Plan administrators must automatically provide participants with the summary annual report (SAR) within nine months after the end of the plan year, or two months after the due date for filing Form 5500 (with approved extension).

Plans that are exempt from the annual 5500 filing requirement are not required to provide an SAR. Large, completely unfunded health plans are also generally exempt from the SAR requirement.

OCTOBER                                        
DEADLINE REQUIREMENT DESCRIPTION
Oct. 14 Medicare Part D—Creditable Coverage Notices Group health plan sponsors that provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare Part D eligible individuals must disclose whether the prescription drug coverage is creditable or not. Medicare Part D creditable coverage disclosure notices must be provided to participants before the start of the annual coordinated election period, which runs from Oct. 15-Dec. 7 of each year. Coverage is creditable if the actuarial value of the coverage equals or exceeds the actuarial value of coverage under Medicare Part D. This disclosure notice helps participants make informed and timely enrollment decisions.

Disclosure notices must be provided to all Part D eligible individuals who are covered under, or apply for, the plan’s prescription drug coverage, regardless of whether the prescription drug coverage is primary or secondary to Medicare Part D.

Model disclosure notices are available on CMS’ website.

ANNUAL NOTICES
TYPE OF NOTICE DESCRIPTION
WHCRA Notice The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) requires group health plans that provide medical and surgical benefits for mastectomies to also provide benefits for reconstructive surgery. Group health plans must provide a notice about the WHCRA’s coverage requirements at the time of enrollment and on an annual basis after enrollment. The initial enrollment notice requirement can be satisfied by including information on WHCRA’s coverage requirements in the plan’s summary plan description (SPD). The annual WHCRA notice can be provided at any time during the year. Employers with open enrollment periods often include the annual notice with their open enrollment materials. Employers that redistribute their SPDs each year can satisfy the annual notice requirement by including the WHCRA notice in their SPDs.
CHIP Notice If an employer’s group health plan covers residents in a state that provides a premium subsidy under a Medicaid plan or CHIP, the employer must send an annual notice about the available assistance to all employees residing in that state. The annual CHIP notice can be provided at any time during the year. Employers with annual enrollment periods often provide the CHIP notice with their open enrollment materials.
Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) Group health plans and health insurance issuers are required to provide an SBC to applicants and enrollees each year at open enrollment or renewal time. The purpose of the SBC is to allow individuals to easily compare their options when they are shopping for or enrolling in health plan coverage. Federal agencies have provided a template for the SBC, which health plans and issuers are required to use.

The issuer for fully insured plans usually prepares the SBC. If the issuer prepares the SBC, an employer is not also required to prepare an SBC for the health plan, although the employer may need to distribute the SBC prepared by the issuer.

The SBC must be included in open enrollment materials. If renewal is automatic, the SBC must be provided no later than 30 days prior to the first day of the new plan year. However, for insured plans, if the new policy has not yet been issued 30 days prior to the beginning of the plan year, the SBC must be provided as soon as practicable, but no later than seven business days after the issuance of the policy.

If you have any questions or concerns about the above information, please call our office at 775-828-7420.

 

 

 

 

 

 

House and Senate Pass Tax Reform Bill

On Dec. 20, 2017, the tax reform bill, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill is now expected to be signed into law by President Trump by the end of the day.

This tax reform bill, drafted based on a tax reform plan that was developed in consultation with the Trump administration, will make significant changes to the federal tax code. Specifically, the tax reform bill will have a substantial impact on businesses.

For example, it:

  • Lowers the corporate tax rate—Beginning in 2018, the bill reduces the corporate tax rate to 21 percent (down from 35 percent) and eliminates the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), in an effort to make American corporations more competitive globally.
  • Creates a new tax deduction for small businesses—The bill establishes a new 20 percent tax deduction for all businesses conducted as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and S corporations.
  • Allows “expensing” of capital investments—The bill allows businesses to immediately write off (or “expense”) the cost of new investments for at least five years.
  • Repeals or restrict many existing business deductions and credits—Because the bill substantially reduces the tax rate for all businesses, it also eliminates the existing domestic production (Section 199) deduction, and repeals or restricts numerous other special exclusions and deductions (including those for employer provided transportation and commuting benefits). However, the bill explicitly preserves business credits related to research and development and low-income housing, as well as deductions or exclusions for employer provided dependent care assistance programs (DCAPs), education assistance programs and adoption assistance programs.
  • Ends “offshoring” incentives—The bill ends the incentive to offshore jobs and keep foreign profits overseas by exempting them when they are repatriated to the United States. It imposes a one-time, low tax rate on wealth that has already accumulated overseas so there is no tax incentive to keep the money offshore.
  • Repeals the individual mandate tax penalty imposed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), effective in 2019.

However, the tax reform bill does not affect the following tax provisions:

  • Tax treatment of employer-sponsored health plans; and
  • The ACA’s Cadillac tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage.

Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc. will continue to monitor the tax reform process for any future updates.

Click Here to Download the Document:  House and Senate Pass Tax Reform Bill 12-20-17

Get to Know Telemedicine!

Click Here to download the Telemedicine Toolkit

As technology has developed, so has people’s ability to overcome the traditional communication barriers of time and distance. The practice of telemedicine is a step forward in the health care industry to use telecommunication to bridge the gap of time, distance and affordability to reach patients in need of medical attention.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine uses technology to facilitate communication, whether real-time or delayed, between a doctor and patient who are not in the same physical location for the purpose of medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Advances in telecommunication allow the exchange of medical information from one site to another to serve patients in a clinical setting.

Telemedicine Advantages

Telemedicine offers numerous benefits for both doctors and patients. Following are a few of the advantages of using telemedicine:

Remote Access

Communicating remotely with a doctor is a primary function of telemedicine. With this technology, doctors can reach patients in remote, rural and underserved areas where there might not be an available doctor or hospital. Through telemedicine, patients can access doctors for routine visits, emergency care or diagnostics from a specialist.

Specialist Availability

Another benefit of telemedicine is increased access to specialists. Even when patients live in urban areas with numerous doctors and hospitals, specialists for rare health conditions may not practice in the area. Telemedicine enables patients in both rural and urban areas to connect with specialists who may be hundreds of miles away.

Cost Savings

Reduction in cost is another major benefit of telemedicine. Patients save money for routine and specialist care because they don’t have to pay travel expenses for distant doctors and don’t have to take excessive time off work to travel and then sit in a waiting room. Doctors are also more efficient in the number of patients they can see in a day, which can help reduce overhead and related costs. In addition, remote monitoring can help lessen the much larger cost of long hospitalizations or in-home nursing, and it may reduce the cost of managing chronic conditions. Remote monitoring can also help prevent hospital readmission by properly supervising care following a patient’s discharge from the hospital.

Convenient Care

For some patients, the comfort and convenience of consulting with a doctor from the safety of their own homes is a tremendous advantage. The convenience can also improve care. For example, whereas patients might forget to bring medications with them to a traditional office visit, when patients are at home they have ready access to the information necessary for the doctor to diagnose and prescribe. Also, because the patient is at home, it is often easier to take notes or even include a family member who can help retain important information from the doctor.

The Role of Telemedicine

Fueled by technological advances and answering the clamor for consumer-convenient care, telemedicine delivers many advantages. Although not the same as sitting in an actual doctor’s office, a telemedicine visit with a doctor can prove beneficial by warding off further illness or disease, stabilizing a condition until a patient is able to reach a hospital or monitoring a patient at home. Telemedicine is not a complete replacement for face-to-face health care, but it can be a tremendously helpful supplement and even a temporary substitute for traditional medical care.

Long Term Disability Insurance

IRS Announces Employee Benefit Plan Limits for 2018

OVERVIEW

Many employee benefits are subject to annual dollar limits that are periodically increased for inflation. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced cost-of-living adjustments to the annual dollar limits for various welfare and retirement plan limits for 2018. Although some of the limits will remain the same, many of the limits will increase for 2018.

The annual limits for the following commonly offered employee benefits will increase for 2018:

  • High deductible health plans (HDHPs) and health savings accounts (HSAs);
  • Health flexible spending accounts (FSAs);
  • Transportation fringe benefit plans; and
  • 401(k) plans.

ACTION STEPS

Employers should update their benefit plan designs for the new limits and also make sure that their plan administration will be consistent with the new limits in 2018. Employers may also want to communicate the new benefit plan limits to employees in connection with annual open enrollment.

HSA and HDHP Limits

HSA Contribution Limit
Limit 2017 2018 Change
Self-only HDHP coverage $3,400 $3,450 Up $50
Family HDHP coverage $6,750 $6,900 Up $150
Catch-up contributions* $1,000 $1,000 No change

*Not adjusted for inflation

HDHP Limits
Limit 2017 2018 Change
Minimum deductible Self-only coverage $1,300 $1,350 Up $50
Family coverage $2,600 $2,700 Up $100
Maximum out-of-pocket Self-only coverage $6,550 $6,650 Up $100
Family coverage $13,100 $13,300 Up $200

FSA Benefits

FSA Limits
Limit 2017 2018 Change
Health FSA (limit on employees’ pre-tax contributions) $2,600 $2,650 Up $50
Dependent care FSA (tax exclusion)* $5,000 ($2,500 if married  and filing taxes separately) $5,000 ($2,500 if married and filing taxes separately) No change

*Not adjusted for inflation

Transportation Fringe Benefits

Transportation Benefits
Limit (monthly limits) 2017 2018 Change
Transit pass and vanpooling (combined) $255 $260 Up $5
Parking $255 $260 Up $5

Adoption Assistance Benefits

Adoption Benefits
Limit 2017 2018 Change
Tax exclusion (employer-provided assistance) $13,570 $13,840 Up $270

Qualified Small Employer HRA (QSEHRA)

QSEHRA
Limit 2017 2018 Change
Payments and Reimbursements Employee-only coverage $4,950 $5,050 Up $100
Family coverage $10,000 $10,250 Up $250

401(k) Contributions

401(k) Contributions
Limit 2017 2018 Change
Employee elective deferrals $18,000 $18,500 Up $500
Catch-up contributions $6,000 $6,000 No change

Click Here to download: IRS Announces Benefit Plan Limits for 2018

Section 6055 and 6056 Reporting Workbooks

The Section 6055 and Section 6056 Reporting Workbooks for 2017 reporting are now available. Employers that are required to report in 2017 must furnish statements to individuals by Jan. 31, 2018, and must file forms with the IRS by Feb. 28, 2018, or April 2, 2018, if filing electronically (since March 31, 2018 is a Saturday).

The Section 6055 Reporting Workbook is intended to be used by smaller employers that sponsor self-insured plans. This Workbook can help those employers track and record the information that is needed to satisfy the Section 6055 reporting requirements only.

The Section 6056 Reporting Workbook is intended to be used by applicable large employers (ALEs) subject to the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules (those that had, on average, 50 or more full-time and full-time equivalent employees during the prior calendar year). This Workbook can help ALEs track and record the information that is needed to satisfy the Section 6056 reporting requirements. It also includes a section for combined reporting, which can be used by ALEs that are also subject to the Section 6055 reporting requirements.

Click on the links below to download the reporting workbooks and instructions.

6055 Reporting Workbook – 2017

Section 6055 Reporting Workbook Instructional Guide 10-31-17

6056 Reporting Workbook – 2017

Section 6056 Reporting Workbook Instructional Guide 10-31-17

FINAL FORMS FOR 2017 ACA REPORTING RELEASED

Click Here to Download the Full Article: Final Forms for 2017 ACA Reporting Released 10-5-17

On Sept. 28, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released final 2017 forms for reporting under Internal Revenue Code (Code) Sections 6055 and 6056.

  • 2017 Forms 1094-C and 1095-C (and related instructions) are used by applicable large employers (ALEs) to report under Section 6056, as well as for combined Section 6055 and 6056 reporting by ALEs who sponsor self-insured plans.
  • 2017 Forms 1094-B and 1095-B (and related instructions) are used by entities reporting under Section 6055, including self-insured plan sponsors that are not ALEs.

Final instructions for 2017 were released in early October. The 2017 forms are substantially similar to the 2016 versions, except that sections related to expired Section 4980H Transition Relief were removed.

ACTION STEPS

Employers should become familiar with the revisions to the forms, and prepare to file these final versions in early 2018.

Background

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created reporting requirements under Code Sections 6055 and 6056. Under these rules, certain employers must provide information to the IRS about the health plan coverage they offer (or do not offer) or provide to their employees. Each reporting entity must annually file all of the following with the IRS:

  • A separate statement (Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C) for each individual who is provided with minimum essential coverage (for providers reporting under Section 6055), or for each full-time employee (for ALEs reporting under Section 6056); and
  • A transmittal form (Form 1094-B or Form 1094-C) for all of the returns filed for a given calendar year.

Reporting entities must also furnish related statements (Form 1095-B or 1095-C, or a substitute form) to individuals.

Forms must generally be filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 28 (March 31, if filed electronically) of the year following the calendar year to which the return relates. Individual statements must be furnished to individuals on or before Jan. 31 of the year immediately following the calendar year to which the statements relate.

2017 Forms and Instructions

The 2017 forms and instructions are substantially similar to the 2016 versions. However, note the following changes:

  • Section 4980H Transition Relief. Several forms of transition relief were available to some employers under Section 4980H for the 2015 plan year (including any portion of the 2015 plan year that fell in 2016). However, no Section 4980H transition relief is available for 2017. As a result, the 2017 instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C were revised to remove references to Section 4980H transition relief. In addition, Form 1094-C has been revised to remove references to this transition relief. Specifically, the following two sections on Form 1094-C related to this transition relief have been designated as “Reserved” and should not be used: Part II, in the “Certifications of Eligibility” Section on Line 22, Box C; and Part III, in the “ALE Member Information – Monthly” table, column (e).
  • Instructions for Recipient. Both individual statements (Forms 1095-B and 1095-C) include an “Instructions for Recipient” section. On both of the 2017 Forms 1095-B and 1095-C, the following paragraph was added: “Additional information. For additional information about the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the individual shared responsibility provisions, the premium tax credit, and the employer shared responsibility provisions, see www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Individuals-and-Families or call the IRS Healthcare Hotline for ACA questions (1-800-919-0452).”
  • Updated Penalty Amounts. Both sets of 2017 instructions include updated penalty amounts for failures to file returns and furnish statements in 2017. The adjusted penalty amount is $260 per violation, with an annual maximum of $3,218,500 (up from a maximum of $3,193,000, for 2016).
  • Code Series 2 (Section 4980H Safe Harbor Codes and Other Relief). The 2017 instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C clarify that there is no specific code to enter on line 16 to indicate that a full-time employee who was offered coverage either did not enroll or waived the coverage.
  • Corrected Forms 1095-C. The 2017 instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C include additional information for employers that have errors on Forms 1095-C. Specifically, the instructions indicate that Forms 1095-C filed with incorrect dollar amounts on line 15, Employee Required Contribution, may fall under a safe harbor for certain de minimis The safe harbor generally applies if no single amount in error differs from the correct amount by more than $100. If the safe harbor applies, employers will not have to correct Form 1095-C to avoid penalties. However, if the recipient elects for the safe harbor not to apply, the employer may have to issue a corrected Form 1095-C to avoid penalties. For more information, see Notice 2017-9.
  • Reporting Catastrophic Coverage for 2017. The 2017 instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B clarify that reporting for catastrophic coverage enrolled in through the Exchange remains optional for 2017. It was expected that health insurance issuers and carriers would be required to report this coverage beginning in 2017. However, the instructions clarify that reporting of catastrophic coverage enrolled in through the Exchange will remain optional for coverage in 2017 (filing in 2018).
  • Formatting Returns Filed with the IRS. Both sets of 2017 instructions clarify that all returns filed with the IRS must be printed in landscape format.

In addition, a prior draft version of Form 1095-C for 2017 clarified that the “Plan Start Month” box in Part II of Form 1095-C will remain optional for 2017. The instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C indicate that this box may be mandatory for the 2018 Form 1095-C.

Additional Resources

The 2016 versions of these forms are also available on the IRS website:

These forms must have been filed with the IRS no later than Feb. 28, 2017 (March 31, 2017, if filing electronically). However, the IRS extended the due date for furnishing individual statements for 2016 an extra 30 days, from Jan. 31, 2017, to March 2, 2017. The IRS does not anticipate extending the filing or furnishing deadlines for 2017 reporting.

According to the IRS, information returns under Sections 6055 and 6056 may continue to be filed after the filing deadline (both on paper and electronically). Employers that missed the filing deadline should continue to make efforts to file their returns as soon as possible.

The IRS also previously released:

More Information

Please contact Clark & Associates of Nevada, Inc. for more information on reporting under Code Sections 6055 and 6056.