It’s been a wild year for health insurance reform. Republicans have tried to get repeal or replace deals through Congress without success, throwing a volatile market into even more uncertainty. While the Affordable Care Act has a small direct effect on employer-sponsored health insurance, chances are your employees are feeling uncertain about their coverage, and they’ll be coming to you for answers. Here’s what you need to know.
The ACA Is Law of the Land
Despite the efforts of Congressional Republicans and the president to repeal or replace parts or all of the ACA, nothing has changed regarding requirements in coverage. In fact, now is the perfect time to start assembling the data you’ll need to report to the IRS under the ACA.
The IRS has established a new validation system to identify reporting and coverage noncompliance and to calculate penalties under the ACA. In addition, it published four letters earlier this year reiterating the requirements companies must follow and the penalties they may be subject to if they don’t. The phase-in era of reporting requirements is over and now is the time to start assembling your data. 1095 C forms must be delivered to employees by January 31, 2018 and filed on paper with the IRS by February 28, 2018. Applicable Large Employers with 250 or more returns must file electronically by March 31, 2018.
Change Is Likely to Take Time
Even if changes were to pass Congress later this year — and that is looking increasingly unlikely — there will probably be some time built into any big changes. Coverage that starts in the next calendar year isn’t going to be different than what people signed up for during open enrollment this year.
At the same time, it’s important for HR leaders and benefits managers to keep an eye on any efforts in Congress to change or repeal the ACA. Things can move quickly at the ends of terms and before recesses as politicians look to get results before going back to their constituents. Be ready to communicate with employees about your offerings in the event of any late-breaking changes.
Health Insurance Is King
No matter what kind of coverage you’re required to provide, keep in mind that employees rely on your coverage to keep themselves and their families healthy. They want the best coverage you can provide while understanding the cost burdens everyone is under. Using health insurance benefits as a way to differentiate yourself in the market can help you attract and retain the employees you need while providing them with one of the most valuable employee benefits.
During open enrollment this fall, ensure your coverage information is clear. Health insurance is a valuable benefit, and employees are bound to be concerned about the kinds of coverage that are available. Be ready for questions about any changes, especially around important issues such as pre-existing conditions and other requirements that are still applicable under the ACA. If possible, boost communication around voluntary health benefits as well as any savings products such as Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts employees can use to pay for health care.
Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.