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The Internal Revenue Service has issued draft versions of the reporting forms most employers will begin using next year to show that their group health insurance plans comply with the health care reform law.
The long-awaited draft forms, posted late Thursday afternoon to the IRS' website, are the first practical application of employers' health care coverage and enrollment reporting obligations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act since the regulations were finalized in March.
The forms are the primary mechanism through which the government intends to enforce the health care reform law's minimum essential coverage and shared responsibility requirements for employers.
Beginning in 2015, employers with at least 100 full-time employees will be required to certify that benefits-eligible employees and their dependents have been offered minimum essential coverage and that their employees' contributions to their premiums comply with cost-sharing limits established under the reform law. Smaller employers with 50-99 full-time employees are required to begin reporting in 2016.
Additionally, self-insured employers will be required to submit documentation to ensure compliance with minimum essential coverage requirements under the reform law's individual coverage mandate.
“In accordance with the IRS' normal process, these draft forms are being provided to help stakeholders, including employers, tax professionals and software providers, prepare for these new reporting provisions and to invite comments from them,” the IRS said in a statement released Thursday.
The IRS said it expects to publish draft instructions for completing the reporting forms by late August and that both the forms and the instructions would be finalized later this year.
Last year, the Obama administration announced it would postpone implementation of employers' minimum essential coverage and shared responsibility obligations under the reform law for one year, largely due to widespread complaints about the complexity of the reporting requirements.
Though several months have passed since the administration issued a simplified set of information reporting rules, many employers have delayed preparations for meeting the requirements until the forms and instructions are available for review, said Richard Stover, a principal with Buck Consultants at Xerox in Secaucus, New Jersey.
“A lot of employers really haven't been doing anything about reporting requirements, even with the final regulations in place, because they were waiting for these forms,” Mr. Stover said. “This is something they've been anxious to see.”
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.