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Outsource COBRA to Avoid the Deadly Bite

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Following the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one question that may linger on employers’ minds is this: “How will this reform affect COBRA?”

With the ACA’s health care reform, the business of employee benefits is even more complicated, yet almost all employer groups are required to comply. COBRA – aka the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act – especially applies to private-sector companies offering group health care to 20 or more employees. If mishandled, COBRA can strike and the repercussions could be detrimental to your business.

Smaller companies may take on the task of administering COBRA in-house, but they run a higher risk of mistake. Businesses that cannot keep up-to-date with COBRA’s ever-changing regulations pay for it in the end.

ACA changes

In connection with the new ACA Marketplace notices, which should be supplied to employees within 14 days of their start date, the Department of Labor also updated its COBRA Model Election Notice for single-employer group health plans. The revised notice adds references to coverage alternatives, in lieu of COBRA, that may be available through the ACA Marketplace.

The reason for the change is because the health insurance marketplace is believed to all but replace COBRA coverage in years to come, and both the employer and the former employee stand to benefit.

For employers with former employees who choose to be insured through the ACA Marketplace, it allows them to save on their group plans, as COBRA participants traditionally cost nearly twice as much as active workers. For this reason, be sure your COBRA notice is updated accordingly.

Common mistakes

One of the most common mistakes is forgetting to send the initial letter outlining the individual’s rights regarding COBRA. In this case, the “deadly bite” may result in a hefty lawsuit that many small businesses cannot afford. In addition to that letter, four additional steps often are overlooked:

1. Deadlines must be met. The initial notice must be sent within 90 days of the benefit’s effective date, and the election notice must be sent within 44 days of the qualifying event. On top of that, there are 25 additional notices and 29 possible deadlines to meet.

2. The format of delivery must be correct. Per COBRA guidelines, the acceptable form of delivery is a certificate of mailing to safeguard against litigation. This form provides evidence that mail has been presented to the United States Postal Service for delivery.

3. The correct individual must be addressed. With COBRA, the individual who receives the benefits must receive a notice. That is not necessarily the employee; in many cases, it may be an employee’s dependent or spouse.

4. COBRA covers health, dental, vision and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). While many people know about the first three options, some are unaware of FSAs being covered.

The smarter choice

Because of all of the above, outsourcing COBRA administration may be the smarter choice for your business. For starters, outsourcing it greatly reduces the risk for errors. It also ensures that your company is under compliance, not under scrutiny.

Outsourcing COBRA also:

  • allows for more time spent on your product and with customers.
  • confirms and maintains airtight documentation to guard against potential lawsuits.
  • eliminates the administrative burden.
  • sends appropriate notices in a timely manner.
  • ensures deadlines are met.

When shopping for a payroll provider to handle COBRA for you, make sure it offers all of these quality services. COBRA is not an animal to mess around with, so take the precautions to ensure the safety of your company is a No. 1 priority.



Author Bio:

Lauren is an enthusiastic writer who is passionate about numerous topics surrounding the HCM industry including talent management and acquisition, technology, document management and leadership, just to name a few. Lauren has been with Paycom for over a year and has taken on roles as a blogger, social strategist and community relations coordinator. In her spare time she enjoys DIY“ing,” exploring the city and keeping up with her two dogs, Deacon and Cookie.

Deadline Extended

Employer Deadline Extended for Furnishing 2017 ACA Forms

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Distribution of 2017 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Forms 1095-B or -C to your employees has been extended.

As issued in Notice 2018-06, the IRS has extended the deadline from Jan. 31 to March 2. (However, the deadline to provide Forms W-2 and 1099 to employees and contract workers remains as Jan. 31.)

Filing deadlines unchanged

While the deadline to furnish forms was extended, the filing deadlines remain the same: Feb. 28 for paper forms, and April 2 for electronic forms.

IRS Notice 2018-06 emphasizes that employers who do not comply with the due dates for furnishing or filing are subject to penalties under sections 6722 or 6721.

Good-faith transition relief extended

The IRS also announced the extension of good-faith transition relief. This may allow an employer to avoid some penalties if it can show that it made good-faith efforts to comply with the information reporting requirements for 2017.

This relief applies only to incorrect and incomplete information reported on the ACA forms, and not to a failure to file or furnish the forms in a timely manner. Additionally, the IRS stated it does not anticipate extending either the good-faith transition relief or the furnishing deadline in future years.

Contact a trusted tax professional if you have questions on how this may affect your business specifically.

Click here to read more about how the ACA is affect by the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in ACA, Blog, Compliance, Featured

Erin Maxwell

by Erin Maxwell


Author Bio:

As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Erin Maxwell monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, focusing on health and employee benefits laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. She previously served as assistant general counsel at Asset Servicing Group in Oklahoma City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Outside of work, Maxwell enjoys politics, historical mysteries and spending time with her family.

Employers Unaffected by ACA Changes in New Tax Law

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On December 22, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The bill includes a provision that reduces the penalty for not complying with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate to $0, effectively removing the penalty for individuals who do not have health insurance coverage after the effective date of Jan. 1, 2019.

However, this update will not impact employers, since the law does not remove the employer mandate (the requirement that large employers offer health insurance coverage to their full-time employees or pay a penalty) or the associated employer reporting requirements. Large employers subject to the mandate still face penalties if they fail to comply with either, and the IRS has begun sending out notices with preliminary assessments of the employer shared responsibility penalty for tax year 2015.

Employers subject to the employer mandate should continue to comply and be prepared to file Forms 1094 and 1095 with the IRS in accordance with the normal deadlines.

For the 2017 tax year, the deadlines to provide Forms 1095-C to employees is Jan. 31, 2018.  The deadline to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS is Feb. 28, 2018 if filing paper forms, and April 2, 2018, if filing electronically.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

Posted in ACA, Blog, Compliance, Featured

Erin Maxwell

by Erin Maxwell


Author Bio:

As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Erin Maxwell monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, focusing on health and employee benefits laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. She previously served as assistant general counsel at Asset Servicing Group in Oklahoma City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Outside of work, Maxwell enjoys politics, historical mysteries and spending time with her family.

ACA Employer Shared Responsibility Payments

IRS Quietly Prepares to Assess ACA Employer Shared Responsibility Payments

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Late last week, without announcement, the IRS amended a FAQ about its planned process for assessing employer shared responsibility payments (ESRPs) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Previously, the document suggested that further guidance would be forthcoming, prior to notifying affected applicable large employers (ALEs) about potential penalties owed under the federal health care law’s employer mandate.

That statement is now gone. In its place are several questions and answers detailing how the IRS will notify companies that they may owe an ESRP. In addition, the IRS intends to send assessments for the 2015 tax year in “late 2017,” which gives the agency approximately six weeks to do so.

Deadlines

The IRS notification will take the form of Letter 226J, which will include a month-by-month payment summary and a list of employees who:

  • were full-time employees for at least one month of the tax year
  • also received a premium tax credit
  • and did not allow the employer to qualify for an affordability safe harbor or other relief

While Letter 226J will indicate the employer’s deadline to respond, recipients generally will have 30 days from the letter’s printed date to contest its information. Then, following correspondence between the IRS and the ALE, if the agency determines the employer indeed is liable for an ESRP, the IRS will issue a demand and instructions for payment, via Notice CP 220J.

The FAQ’s changes to describe specific procedures and deadlines represent the clearest indication we have received that the IRS soon will notify ALEs that they may owe an ESRP for 2015. If such notifications are sent within the next few weeks, it will mark significant news.

For more on ACA, check out the October 2017 article: Trump Announces 2 Changes to ACA 

Tags: , ,
Posted in ACA, Blog, Featured

Erin Maxwell

by Erin Maxwell


Author Bio:

As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Erin Maxwell monitors legal and regulatory changes at the state and federal level, focusing on health and employee benefits laws, to ensure the Paycom system is updated accordingly. She previously served as assistant general counsel at Asset Servicing Group in Oklahoma City. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Outside of work, Maxwell enjoys politics, historical mysteries and spending time with her family.

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