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Employers await answers from IRS on other health reform law provisions

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Employers still are awaiting guidance from the Internal Revenue Service on several other issues concerning the nation's 2010 health care reform law.

Those issues include:

• How employers are to comply with a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requirement that they notify employees by March 1 about the availability of public health insurance exchanges. Employers need guidance on the wording of the notices, as well as how health insurance exchange information would be communicated to employees, whether it be electronically or in print. However, benefit experts expect an announcement soon from federal regulators delaying the notification requirement.

• How employers comply with a requirement that employers with at least 200 employees automatically enroll new employees in one of their health care plans. Under the law, employers are required to notify employees about automatic enrollment and to give them an opportunity to opt out of a plan in which they were automatically enrolled. However, regulators have said that automatic enrollment rules will not be published until 2014.

• A health care reform law provision that imposes a 40% excise tax on premium costs that exceed $10,200 for single coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. Insurers will pay the tax on plans they insure, while third-party administrators will pay the tax for self-funded plans. Insurers and TPAs are expected to recover the taxes they paid from employer plans. Regulators, though, have time to develop rules on the excise tax provision because it does not go into effect until 2018.