HRB Solutions has joined the Lake Zurich, IL Chamber of Commerce and we are having our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony tomorrow. We don’t like to use this space to talk about us but we just could not help it this time! If you happen to be anywhere near our offices, please plan to stop by and enjoy some great conversation, meet some wonderful people and enjoy tasty food supplied by Panara Bread!
Contact us for more details – hope to see you at the event!
Details are being released regarding the number of individuals that signed up for medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. The numbers show that there is an overall reduction of 3.7% in 2018 over 2017. This a combination of a slight increase (0.2%) in the state-based marketplace offset by a reduction at Healthcare.gov. There were 15 states that showed an increase over 2017 with the majority of these being state-based services.
This is a larger enrollment than many expected because funding for outreach informing those potentially in need of the program was dramatically reduced and the enrollment period was cut in half. There were also a few political factors including the government’s termination of the cost-sharing provision and uncertainty whether the law would be in effect at all.
Outreach, as outlined in the ACA, was provide through Navigator programs. These programs helped inform and guide potential enrollees in the 34 states using Healthcare.gov about enrollment periods and what they specifically had to do to comply with the ACA. In august of last year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services significantly reduced their spending on Navigator. Because it was so close to the actual enrollment period, many thought that it would have a major impact on enrollment in general.
The elimination of the cost-sharing provision for insurers prior to the open enrollment period led to an increase in the premiums that many would have to pay. It also increased the premium subsidies for some of those enrolled that qualified leading to reductions in what they had to pay.
In Illinois, 334, 979 enrolled this year down 6% from the 356,403 that enrolled in 2017.
There are still many changes on the horizon with regards to the ACA and its components. While Congress did not fully repeal and replace the ACA, they did remove the individual mandate as part of the most recent tax bill. The full impact of this will be realized over the next few months and years.
We will continue to monitor progress in the provisions of the ACA and how it will impact your business. Please contact us if you would like to discuss how this changing environment will impact your business and what steps you can take to make sure that you are compliant while still saving as much on the expense side as possible.
Sources for this blog include:
Kaiser Family Foundation
What is happening in Health Care Insurance?
There is always something happening in the Health Care Insurance Industry. We do our best to keep you informed with these Blog posts. What follows are a few of the happenings in Health Care this month along with a few links that are of real interest to us and maybe you as well. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments about these highlights.
This is for groups of 1-50 and follows recent announcements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Beginning June 5th BCBS will start collecting data related to the Medicare Secondary Payer information required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. You will be impacted if you are fully insured and ASO employer groups with 1-150 employees and have not completed the 2018 Employer Acknowledgment form prior to June 5th.
- For calendar year 2019, the annual limitation on deductions for an individual with self-only coverage under a high deductible health plan is $3,500.
- For calendar year 2019, the annual limitation on deductions under for an individual with family coverage under a high deductible health plan is $7,000.
- High deductible health plan. For calendar year 2019, a “high deductible health plan” is defined as a health plan with an annual deductible that is not less than $1,350 for self-only coverage or $2,700 for family coverage, and the annual out-of-pocket expenses (deductibles, co-payments, and other amounts, but not premiums) do not exceed $6,750 for self-only coverage or $13,500 for family coverage.
Type 2018 2019
HDHP Min.Deductible – Single $1,350 $1,350
HDHP Min. Deductible – Family $2,700 $2,700
HDHP Max. Out-of-Pocket – Single $6,650 $6,750
HDHP Max. Out-of-Pocket – Family $13,300 $13,500
HSA Contribution Limit – Single $3,450 $3,500
HSA Contribution Limit – Family $6,900 $7,000
HSA Catch-Up Contribution – 55+ $1,000 $1,000
Chart Source: Flex
The most recent tax cut approved by the US Congress late last year know as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removed the federal penalty for not having health insurance – the individual mandate. Since then, officials from many states have been concerned that the elimination of the penalty might have a destabilizing impact on their local health insurance marketplaces. To combat this some States have and others are looking at instituting their own individual mandate programs.
States with Mandates:
Massachusetts was the first state and actually had an individual mandate in place before the Affordable Care Act when into law. The penalty amount varies by income with a maximum penalty of just under $1,500 per year.
New Jersey recently passed a new law which goes into effect in 2019. Their penalty is based on per adult+child amount (695/347.50) or 2.5% of household income whichever is the greater. The total is capped at the premiums of the lowest rate plan in their marketplace
Vermont also passed a new law, but it will not go into effect until 2020. The details of this new law are not known yet as the State Legislature will be working out the details durin 2019.
Several states are considering instituting some form of the mandate. These include California, Connecticut, Maryland, Hawaii, Rode Island, Washington, Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Other states are unknown at this time but all the signs point to additional states climbing on board in the very near future.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this impact on your business, please do not hesitate to contact us. Please also stay tuned to our blog posts and we will update you as soon as we know of changes in this changing landscape.
In a recent executive order, the Trump Administration has proposed new regulations to encourage a much wider use of short-term health plans. These plans have limited duration and are generally a cheaper alternative to individual market, ACA compliant plans. However, cheaper does not always translate to better. A recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that these plans have gaps and offer less or limited services.
The Foundation’s analysis examined specific short-term insurance products that are available in 45 states and the District of Columbia through two insurance partners – eHealth or Agile Health Insurance.
In general, the Kaiser Foundation analysis found:
- 43 percent do not cover mental health services;
- 62 percent do not cover substance abuse treatment;
- 71 percent do not cover outpatient prescription drugs; and
- None of the plans cover maternity care.
The study found that these short-term health plans have premiums that are up to 20% lower than the lowest ACA compliant individual marketplace plans (bronze) within each of the states analyzed.
There are concerns that healthier people may move to these shorter, cheaper plans leaving those with more complicated health conditions in the ACA plans. This would have the knock-on effect of raising the premiums for those that remain in the ACA plans. While qualified low income people may be able to take advantage of tax credits to help offset the higher premiums, most middle-income families would not be entitled to any tax relief. This would most likely result in higher premiums for this group.
It is also expected that the repeal of the individual mandate that was voted in as a rider on the 2017 Holiday Tax Cut will boost enrollment in these short-term plans as the penalty will no longer apply.
There is a tremendous amount of activity in the marketplace these days where a change in one component of health care has huge impacts on other areas. Please contact us if you have any questions about this change. We will help walk you through the changes and what impact it may have on your business.
Additional Resources on Short-term Health Care Plans:
Kaiser Family Foundation
The Cadillac Tax imposes a 40% excise tax on coverage in excess of certain thresholds. When originally enacted with a 2018 effective date, the thresholds were $10,200 for self-only and $27,500 for family coverage. The tax has since been delayed twice (including this delay), and the thresholds will be updated prior to the new Jan. 1, 2022 effective date.
Many employers, unions, insurers and industry groups have opposed the tax based on concerns around administrative and financial burdens for employers and adverse outcomes for employees. Cigna is a founding member and on the executive committee of The Alliance to Fight the 40, a coalition of public and private sector stakeholders that seeks a full repeal of the Cadillac Tax. To learn more about these efforts, visit www.fightthe40.com.
Health Insurance Industry Fee (a.k.a. Health Insurer Tax)
The short-term spending bill also suspends the Health Insurance Industry Fee for 2019. This fee began in 2014 and only affects insured health plans. It was previously suspended for 2017 but went back into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more about how these changes impact your business, please contact us.
Observations on the New Tax Law
In our continuing effort to scan the business environment and surface important information (such as the new tax law) that we feel our clients and site visitors may need to help them make better decisions regarding their Employee Benefits Programs, we discovered this document from Guardian Life Insurance Company.
The Guardian document authored by Vice President, Government Affairs Jonathan Renfrew outlines a few key changes related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. In case that title is not familiar to you, it is the official name of the recent tax cut voted in by the US Congress in December 2017 that went into effect January 1, 2018. Mr. Renfrew does a nice job of outlining a few of the major employee benefits changes that have been brought about because of the passing of this new law.
Here is a section from that document which we feel directly impacts many of our clients:
Pass-Through Tax Provisions:
About 75% of small business employers organize as pass-through entities, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). The new law includes a deduction for owners of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S-corporations generally equal to 20% of qualified business income, subject to additional exceptions. For a service business, the deduction phases out for taxpayers with income above $157,000 or $315,000 for joint returns.
Major Employee Benefit Changes:
- The new law would generally disallow any deduction for entertainment, amusement, recreation activities, or facilities, even if the expenses are directly related to or associated with the active conduct of trade or business. This includes meals, food, or beverages to the extent the expenses are related to entertainment, amusement or recreation.
- Deductions for qualified transportation fringe benefits are also generally disallowed. • There are new restrictions on the deduction of employee achievement awards.
- The deduction for qualified moving expenses and reimbursements is repealed through the end of 2025.
- The law creates a new tax credit for employers (subject to certain rules) that pay employees while on family and medical leave covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Employer-sponsored dependent care, flexible spending arrangements, and tuition reimbursement programs remain unchanged under the new law.
The document also discusses Retirement and Educational Savings, Estate and Gift Tax Exclusion and Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation. The later has no impact as no changes were made in the new tax law in this component.
In this document, Mr. Renfrew also makes some key observations. Amongst these is the suggestion that right now might be the right time to take another look at your business’ overall benefit portfolio. We could not agree more with Mr. Renfrew. With many of the benefits business have enjoyed for many years going away and being exchanged with new provisions such as percentage rate deductions of qualified business income, there may be some opportunity to fine tune your employee benefit programs. As noted in the document, these include some of the more traditional benefits you are currently providing or are contemplating to provide in the future in order to retain or attract employees.
As you filter through the elements of the new law and work internally with your HR team to seek potential enhancements or cost savings to your benefits package, we here at HRB Solutions will work with you to outline a new plan that makes sense under the new tax law structure. It might mean a tweak to your existing configuration or perhaps it might make sense to move to a plan that is comprehensive, able to grow with your business and allows for the introduction of just the right mix of benefits for your industry and your employee retention.
There are new days ahead as we all begin to wrap our collective heads around the new tax law and what it means specifically for your business. Please contact us to start the process of determining if a change is needed to your Employee Benefits Program while we are still early in the new tax year. If you are seeking tax advice, we recommend that you contact your Tax Advisor and Attorney, our focus is on your benefits portfolio.
Here are a few additional resources that may also be of help to you:
Summary on Wikipedia
Wanted to take a quick moment to let all our readers know that effective immediately for calendar year 2018, the family contribution limit for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) has been lowered to $6,850 from the previously set amount of $6,900.
Please inform your employees or be aware yourself that the maximum contribution to your HSA has been reduced by $50.00. This may force some HSA owners to make some changes in their contribution amounts to ensure that they will not exceed the maximum. If the employee has already contributed the entire amount for the year, then they will need to receive a refund before the end of the 2018 calendar year.
For individuals who only cover themselves, the deduction remains the same ($3,450) as 2017.
Other types of accounts such as Flexible Spending and Transit were not affected for 2018.
This reduction is due to changes related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill legislation defining how the cost of living rates should be calculated. The Bill states that the cost of living increase must use the “Chained CPI” approach. Chained CPI calculates inflation to include the fact that as some prices increase, some consumers will switch to lower priced products or switch to different products. This consumer activity reduces the overall impact of inflation. Over time, the Chained CPI will ultimately produce lower cost of living increases. The immediate impact of this calculation is to lower the amount that the IRS allows for contribution to the employee’s HSA.
HSA’s are used to help fund high-deductible health plans. Those are defined as plans where the annual deductible is not less than $1,350 for individuals or $2,700 for family coverage and the annual out-of-pocket expenses do not exceed $6,650 for individuals or $13,300 for families.
If you have any questions or wish to talk about how this impacts your business and your employees, please contact us.
Additional Resources may be found here:
In late December the IRS provided a 30-day extension for insurers, self-insuring employers, other coverage providers, and applicable large employers to provide the 2017 health coverage forms to their employees. The original date, January 21 was extended until March 2, 2018. At this time these groups must provide statements to their employees or any covered individuals regarding the health coverage that is offered to them. This will assist the employees in determining if they will be able to claim the premium tax credit on their individual income tax returns. This extension is automatic, it is not something that employers have to request.
We have made mention of this extension in the past on our website. The reason we are bringing it up again now is the due dates for filing 2017 information returns with the IRS are not extended. For 2018, the due dates to file information returns with the IRS are:
- 28 for paper filers
- April 2 for electronic filers
The dates are quickly approaching. We wanted to surface them as a reminder for your information and use.
The IRS also noted that this extension may be beyond when many taxpayers are ready to file their taxes. These forms are not required to file. Taxpayers may be able to prepare and file their returns using other information about their coverage, they do not need to wait for the forms 1095-B or 1095-C to file.
If you have any questions about this extension, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Additional information may be found here:
IRS Public Filing
Three premier US based companies (including Amazon) announced they are going to join forces to tackle heath care. They plan to engage this partnership to cut costs and improve services for their estimated one million combined employee base. The announcement stated that this initiative will be an independent company that “is free from profit-making incentives and constraints” (Jeff Bezos, Amazon). This announcement caused a drop in the stock price of many of the big players in the market (Anthem, CVS, UnitedHealth Group) by at least 4%.
There were not many details offered in the announcement, but many analysts feel that the healthcare industry is ripe for a disruption. The combined group is planning on targeting technology and data solutions to help simplify healthcare delivery and want to leverage their combined best talent to solve this problem over time. There are still quite a few skeptics feeling that these three can make a big difference. However, Amazon has disrupted many industries on their astronomical rise. The fact that there was an announcement at all recognizes that there is room for more players in an industry that has not had any new players in many years.
This move is not completely new to the three companies
- Amazon – has been expected to move into health care selling prescription drugs
- Berkshire – owns MedPro Group (liability insurer)
- JPMorgan Chase – their institute studies health care costs.
For more details on the people being asked to spearhead this venture, follow this link
Both employers and employees want improved health care. There have been many Government based attempts and some States are working better than others. It may be time for business to step in and take strides to better an industry that many agree is ready for some big changes.
As exciting as this news may be, HRB Solutions has Health Insurance Options you don’t have to wait for that are proprietary and designed to make the difference employers have been waiting for. For more information or if you want to discuss what this means for your business going forward, please contact us.
For more details on this announcement: