The IRS is coming, what to do before, during and after and ACA audit

Over the last 6 years, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has dramatically changed the employee benefits landscape across the country for employers and employees alike. As the first year of ACA reporting deadlines have just passed, they first wave of IRS audits, as specified in the ACA, will begin.

The government views the ACA as a huge revenue source and they have pushed a lot of their resources to develop an auditing system. The federal agencies are becoming quite aggressive, especially when it comes to protecting participants, as they are charged by the law to have regular enforcement efforts.

There are many triggers that could prompt a potential ACA audit, here are 5 examples:

  1. Employee complaints
  2. Reporting failures
  3. Failures of IRS control group employers
  4. Other agencies identifying issues – (Agencies like the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will have a cross-referral agreement where they are required to share information about businesses not in compliance, thus triggering audits from multiple agencies.)
  5. Media reports – (Media coverage on an organization’s business not in compliance, thus triggering audits from multiple agencies.)

While you may not be able to totally avoid every trigger. The best way to avoid a full-fledged audit is to keep good records. Proper documentation is key to both avoiding and surviving an audit.

Lowering your chances of an ACA audit is key, here are 6 ways to help your organization look its best:

  1. Document good faith compliance on questionable issues – (This includes reviewing and adopting corresponding wording in all internal and employee-facing materials.)
  2. Compliance review – (Focus on administrative practices and make sure they are in compliance.)
  3. Correct failures found. (Make sure administrative processes are in order but when you discover an issue, hold internal compliance discussions to correct your failures.)
  4. Designate employee status. (Create realistic benefits expectations for employees by communicating their employee status and eligibility.)
  5. Train managers well. (Beware of practices to terminate or limit hours for employees to prevent them from eligibility levels. Understand the law and work within it for hiring, firing and scheduling practices.)

If your business is subject to an audit, knowing what it will look like and how to handle it will be key to passing with flying colors. Contact FreedomCare to help maintain your compliance and minimize your risk of an ACA audit.

Important – ACA 1095 update

With 2017 rapidly approaching, last week we received some good news from the IRS. The IRS released, notice 1015-70 which highlights some of the changes to come with ACA’s information reporting. One of the biggest changes is a date extension.

Form 1095-B for Health Coverage and form 1095-C have been extended from January 31st, 2017 to March 2nd, 2017.

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This won’t affect the employees’ ability to file their tax returns, but it does delay their receipt of the forms for their own records.

“This deadline was especially challenging because it coincided with Form 1099 and W-2 processing schedules,” said Mike Downey, executive vice president of BenefitScape. “A 30-day extension, while short, moves the printing and distribution to a more opportune time.”

It’s important to note, the filing deadlines remain unchanged, this is just an extension to furnish the forms to employees.  It’s still just as important for employers to get the rest of their filings completed on time, and trust me, this extra month will fly by.

There are only 21 business days left in 2016 and its filled with holiday closures. Your clients need to make their ACA compliance a top priority.

3 reasons to self-fund health benefits under the ACA

3 reasons to self fund acaSelf-funding controls costs.

Under the ACA, fully insured carriers are facing higher exposure to claims without the ability to include rate adjustment factors for health conditions and demographics. New rules limit the insurance carriers’ ability to charge higher premiums for older, riskier individuals now that certain risk reduction strategies are not allowed. These costs will most likely be passed on to employers and individuals.

Self-funding keeps the employers best interest as the priority.

There are some fixed costs of administering a self-funded healthcare plan, such as claims processing, stop loss premiums and administrative fees. Self-funded employers only pay the direct costs of administering employee claims. If the employee base is relatively healthy, having a self-funded plan can be one of the best ways to manage rising costs. When employers choose to self-fund their health plan, they have access to all claims submitted, including Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) plans. The claims administrator should be able to provide reports of what claims were paid and when they were paid.

Self-funding is customizable.

The costs of fully insured plans are unpredictable for employers since carriers have control over monitoring employee health and underwriting for risk. With fully insured plans, employers don’t have access to employee health claims which is a significant advantage of self-funded plans.

In conclusion, the ACA has changed the healthcare landscape. But your self-funded client will be better positioned to save on healthcare costs while providing a quality health benefit plan that meets or even exceeds the requirements of the ACA. Take advantage of our experience and quality products, give FreedomCare a call today.

Beyond the ACA, the top 5 reasons to offer employee’s health benefits

Beyond the ACA, top 5 reasons to offerThe Affordable Care Act has been around for several years now, the employer mandated penalties regulated by the IRS are in full effect. Most employers are offering at least Minimum Essential Coverage plans to their employees. If we look past the law, beyond the $2,000 and $3,000 penalties, why should employers offer health benefits to their employees?

It’s simple, one of the most vital components of running a successful business is attracting and keeping great employees. While there are different ways to accomplish this, offering your employees benefits tends to be one of the most cost-effective ways.

We’ve gathered the top 5 reasons for employers to offer coverage below.

  1. Attract top talent.

    • A survey by McKinsey Quarterly showed that attracting and retaining talent was the biggest reason that companies offered employee benefits. 46% of employees say their company’s health care program was an important reason they chose to work for their current employer. It helps to attract top talent by having tangible benefits that differentiate your business from your competitors.
  2. Minimize your turnover rate.

    1. It’s difficult for a business to make serious progress when employees are constantly coming and going. 55% of employees say their company’s health care program is an important reason they stay with their current employer. By investing in your employees and offering benefits, it shows that you have their best interest in mind and value their job performance. This also helps to improve your stability as a company.
  3. Better morale.

  4. Healthier employees.

    • When your employees have health coverage, there is a higher likelihood that they will have regular checkups and take preventative medical steps, which will lead to fewer unexpected sick days.
  5. Better job performance.

    • By offering benefits, you give employees more of a reason to care about your company and remain loyal. According to a survey done by the Society of Human Resource Management, 71% of employees who are satisfied with their benefits reported that they are more loyal to their employer. As a result, they will be motivated to work harder, which can lead to greater productivity and a higher quality of work.

These all sound like no brainers but what if my client’s company is barely scraping by and can’t afford health benefits from traditional carriers? Check out our article about self-insuring your health benefits, you might be surprised what a small business can afford with the help of FreedomCare.

4 Major ACA Reporting Myths Debunked

With so many oACA Reporting Myths Debunkedf the ACA reporting requirements are difficult to interpret, business owners and brokers are struggling to see right from wrong. We did some of the leg work for you and here are 4 major ACA reporting myths you may have fallen for.

"I don't have to offer any employees medical benefits even though I have employed more than 50 full-time equivalent employees during 2014."

ALL applicable large employers are subject to the ACA Employer Shared Responsibility requirements and must report, even if the employer chooses not to offer benefits or offers benefits that don't meet minimum value and affordable requirements. In other words, you can't just avoid the law hoping to fly under the radar. You have to report it whether you comply or not.

"I don't have to report for 2015 because I had less than 100 full-time equivalent employees during 2014."

ALL applicable large employers must report, even if the employer qualifies for transition relief. What is transition relief? Not sure if you qualify? Check out ACA expert, Kaya Bromley's webinar here.

"I can wait and decide later this year how I'm going to meet the reporting requirements."

Data MUST be reported each month of the 2015 calendar year. Be prepared to hire a professional to sort it all out for you if you don't have accurate historical records of all changes made.

"There aren't going to be any fines until next year."

They've given you plenty of time. You can't claim you forgot your homework. There may be some relief from fines for employers submitting incomplete forms or forms with minor inaccuracies, however, the IRS has made it clear that there is no relief for employers that cannot show a good faith effort to comply. If you don't have something in place, you need to act now.

Are you still confused? Give us a call at FreedomCare and we can walk you through what you need to know.