8 reasons for employers to keep their PPACA guard up

Originally published July 17, 2013 by Dan Cook on http://www.benefitspro.com

Now that the celebrations have died down over the one-year delay of penalties for employers who don’t meet the PPACA coverage requirements, it’s time to take a close look at what does remain in effect.

The very short answer to the question is that there’s still quite a bit on the books, and that, really, only the teeth have been (temporarily) removed.

Here’s what the national law firm Bryan Cave had to say about which PPACA provisions remain in effect for employers in the year ahead.

1.  Summaries of Benefits and Coverage must be distributed during open enrollment for the 2014 coverage period and must indicate whether the plan provides minimum value, as defined under the PPACA.

2.  Exchange Notices: Employers must distribute PPACA exchange notices to employees by Oct. 1, 2013, and thereafter to new employees upon hire.

3.  Application for Advance Premium Credits: Employers are required to complete a 12-page form entitled, “Application for Health Coverage and Help Paying Costs” when requested by employees who are applying for PPACA advance premium tax credits when purchasing coverage via an exchange.

4.  PPACA fees: Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute Fees (“PCORI Fees”) must be paid in July 2013 (that’s now!). The first Transitional Reinsurance Fee must be paid on or before Jan. 15, 2015. PCORI is a private non-profit corporation that gathers research-based information to assist patients, practitioners and policy makers in making informed health care decision.

5.  W-2 reporting: Employers must continue to report the aggregate value of health coverage on Forms W-2.

6.  Counting Period for Employer Mandate: Employers that need to determine whether they will be subject to the employer mandate in 2015 (50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees in 2014) will need to record employee hours in 2014. It is not yet clear whether a short counting period will be available, which means that employers may be smartest to begin to track hours on a per-employee, monthly basis on Jan. 1.

7.  Benefit Mandates For All Plans: Plan design requirements for all plans continue to apply (e.g., maximum 90-day waiting period, no limits on pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits, expansion of wellness incentives, dependent coverage to age 26).

8.  Benefit Mandates for Non-Grandfathered Plans Only: Plan design requirements for non-grandfathered plans only continue to apply (e.g., preventive care coverage requirements, limits on out-of-pocket maximums, coverage for clinical trial-related services, and provider nondiscrimination, and for small group health plans, limits on annual deductibles).

 

 


How should insurers pay their PPACA fees?

Original article http://www.benefitspro.com

By Allison Bell

A team at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is trying to figure out how health insurers should get the cash to pay billions of dollars in Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act fees.

The team -- the Health Care Reform Regulatory Alternatives Working Group -- has come up with five ways insurers could handle the fact that the new PPACA fees are supposed to kick in on Jan. 1.

The working group has described the options in a rough draft of a discussion paper posted on the Health Actuarial Task Force section of the NAIC's website. The NAIC created the group to give regulators from states that are skeptical about PPACA a way to share ideas about how to cope with the law. The discussion paper drafters used estimates from the American Action Forum, a group that opposes PPACA, in the paper draft.

The new PPACA fees could cost health insurers $20 billion in 2014 -- an amount equal to about 3 percent of their revenue, the drafters said, citing the American Action Forum figures.

The drafters talked only about the mechanics of how insurers should handle the fees, not their views about whether insurers should have to pay the fees.

Because the PPACA fees resemble excise taxes, "it seems legitimate for an insurer to include such fees in the premium," the drafters wrote in the paper. "Then the question is when an insurer should reflect the fees in the premium.

The drafters list the following options:

  • Have insurers file rates that extend for the entire 12-month policy year. An insurer could include a portion of the PPACA fees payable in 2014 starting on the policy anniversary in 2013.
  • Have insurers file rates that extend for the entire 12-month policy year, with no inclusion of PPACA fees in 2013. Let the insurers bill for PPACA fees separately starting Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Have insurers file rates that extend for the entire 12-month policy year. Don't let insurers include PPACA fees in the 2013 premium rates but let the insurers have their rates change to reflect the new fees on Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Have insurers file rates that extend only until Dec. 31, 2013, with no inclusion of PPACA fees. Require the insurers to submit new filings for rates effective on Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Prohibit insurers from including PPACA fees in their rates until the first policy anniversary that occurs on or after Jan. 1, 2014.