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Mercer projects health reform law's 2015 penalties, HSA and HDHP tax limits

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Mercer L.L.C. has projected the amounts employers can expect to pay in 2015 for failing to comply with the health care reform law's “play or pay” provisions in a report released on Tuesday.

Additionally, the New York-based consultant report predicts next year's limits on tax-deductible contributions to health savings accounts, as well as minimum annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums for high-deductible health plans.

The report's projections are in anticipation of guidance from the Internal Revenue Service, due out later this year.

Beginning next year, employers with 100 or more full-time employees that do not offer qualified health care benefits to 70% of their eligible employees will have to pay one of two IRS assessments under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's employer mandate.

While the IRS has yet to publish the finalized 2015 assessment levels, a report released Tuesday by New York-based consultant Mercer projects that employers that elect not to offer any health care coverage next year will be charged $173.33 per eligible employee per month, and employers that offer health care benefits that do not meet minimum value or affordability standards established under the reform law will be charged $260 per employee per month.

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Mercer said its projections are based on the medical premium inflation factor contained in PPACA regulations previously published by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the U.S. Treasury Department.

Mercer's report also projects several 2015 limits that will apply to employers' high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts using the consumer price index inflation adjustment under the U.S. Tax Code.

Under an employer-sponsored HDHP, minimum annual deductibles will be set at $1,300 for single coverage and $2,600 for family coverage, while employee out-of-pocket costs will be capped at $6,450 for single coverage and $12,900 for family coverage, according to Mercer's report.

Additionally, Mercer's report projects tax-deductible contributions to employees' HSAs will be limited to $3,350 for single coverage and $6,650 for family coverage.