Boon Buzz: 2018 ACA Reporting Deadline is Near!

The final deadline for electronic filing 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA) reports is April 1, 2019. This will be the final deadline for the reporting season.

Per Sections 6055 and 6056 of the Internal Revenue Service Code, certain employers are required to provide information on the health coverage they offer to their employees. This requirement keeps employers in compliance with the Affordable Care Act and the forms are typically updated on an annual basis.

Check out our earlier blog post for more information on how the 2018 final forms differ from the previous version. Click here to read more.

Section 6056 and corresponding forms 1094-C and 1095-C are intended for applicable large employers (ALE) that offer fully insured health plans. If an employer is qualified as an ALE and also offers a self-insured plan, they are to utilize IRS Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.

For non-ALE employers that offer self-insured health plans, Section 6055 and forms 1094-B and 1095-B are used to meet the reporting obligations.

Each reporting employer must file these forms with the IRS annually. Under Sections 6055 and 6056 the employer must specifically file the following:

  • Form 1095-B or Form 1095-C: A separate statement for each individual that is provided with minimum essential coverage or each full-time employee. Section 6055 applies to employers that offer minimum essential coverage, while Section 6056 is for applicable large employers with full-time employees.
  • A transmittal form for all returns filed in a given calendar year. This is in Form 1094-B or Form 1094-C.

Remember, April 1 is the final deadline for electronic filing of these very important forms.

Employers are expected to comply with a host of reporting and disclosure requirements throughout the year, in connection with their group health plans. It’s a large, but very important task with multiple factors to be considered. We pride ourselves on being experts in these nuances and have an array of helpful solutions for employers.

Click here to learn more about Boon’s compliance expertise.

The Boon Blog is your resource for the latest news and updates from within the healthcare industry. Follow the Boon Blog to keep up with these developments. You can also get the latest on all things Boon on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Posted in ACA, ACA reporting, Affordable Care Act, compliance, employer-sponsored group health plans, health care, health insurance | Leave a comment

Boon Buzz: H.R. 6330 Means Big Change for Small Business

The Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018 allows growing businesses to be considered “small” for a longer period of time. The stated purpose, per the House Committee on Small Business, is to help small contractors “navigate the middle market as they reach the upper limits of their small size standard.”

On December 17, 2018, President Trump signed the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018 (also known as H.R. 6330) into law. In doing so, Section 3(a)(2)(C)(ii)(II) of the Small Business Act was thus amended by extending the period of time under which annual average gross receipts are considered from not less than three years to not less than five years, effectively extending the measurement period for another two years.

If a federal contractor qualifies as a small business, is doing well, and quickly growing, the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018 allows it to categorize itself as “small” for a longer period of time in order to establish the presence and infrastructure necessary to be a fierce competitor. This is a benefit to the small business in the same way that it benefits a wrestler to be on the high-end of their weight class. Instead of being a small competitor in a larger class, a business that is allowed to remain “small” still has opportunity to seek assistance and grow, so that when they do enter the next level, they are in their best fighting shape.

This would also, of course, impact a business’s eligibility for any resources and assistance offered by the Small Business Administration and other agencies.

When does H.R. 6330 go into effect?

Since it has been signed into law by the President, H.R. 6330 is immediately in effect, technically. However, there is still some ambiguity as to how the Small Business Administration and other impacted agencies will view and implement the change, absent regulations.

This extension of the Small Business Act does not come without some drawbacks. There is potential that the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018 could backfire on companies going the other way; forcing a large company in decline to be categorized as large for longer and keeping them from assistance.

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ACA Affordability Percentages Increase for 2019

The IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2018-34 on May 21, 2018. This action is intended to determine the affordability of an employer’s plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by indexing the contribution percentages in 2019.

So what does this do? For plan years beginning in 2019, employer sponsored coverage will be considered affordable if the employee’s required contribution for self only coverage does not exceed 9.86% of the employee’s household income for the year, for purposes of both the pay or play rules and premium tax credit eligibility. Additionally, for purposes of an individual mandate exemption, the required contribution can’t exceed 8.3% of the employee’s yearly household income.

These affordability percentage updates apply to taxable years and plan years beginning January 1, 2019. It’s worth noting that this is an increase from the affordability percentages set for 2018, which had been a household income percentage of 9.56%. This could mean that some employers have additional flexibility with respect to their employee contributions for 2019.

Still have questions? Let’s break down the ACA.

The Affordability Requirement

The affordability of an employer’s plan can be assessed in three different contexts, under the ACA:

  1. “Pay or Play” rules, also known as employer mandate. This is the employer shared responsibility penalty for applicable large employers
  2. Exemptions from the individual mandate tax penalty for individuals who failed to obtain health coverage
  3. The premium tax credit for low-income individuals to purchase health coverage through an Exchange

Affordable Employer-Sponsored Coverage

Employees and their family members who are eligible for coverage under an affordable employee-sponsored plan are generally not eligible for the premium tax credit. Why is that important? Because the ACA’s employer shared responsibility penalty is triggered when a full-time employee receives a premium tax credit for coverage under an Exchange.

Employer Shared Responsibility Rules

Employer shared responsibility (aka pay or play) rules require Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) to offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to their full-time employees and their dependents.

The affordability of health coverage is the key factor in determining who is subject to these penalties. These rules generally determine affordability of employer-sponsored coverage by reference to the rules for determining premium tax credit eligibility.

For 2019, Rev. Proc. 18-34 increases the affordability percentage to 9.86 percent.

Employers have three options for an affordability safe harbor that they may utilize to measure the affordability of their coverage. These safe harbors are:

  1. Form W-2 wages
  2. The employee’s rate of pay
  3. The federal poverty line for a single individual

ALEs using an affordability safe harbor may rely on the adjusted affordability contribution percentages for 2015 and future years.

The affordability test only applies to annual premiums for self-only coverage and doesn’t include the additional costs for family coverage. Additionally, an employer that offers multiple coverage options is subject to the lowest-cost option that also satisfies the minimum value requirement.

Individual Mandate Exemption

The individual mandate under the ACA formerly required most individuals to obtain acceptable health coverage for themselves and their dependent children or pay a penalty. Individuals who lack access to affordable minimum essential coverage are exempt. For the purposes of the exemption, coverage is only considered affordable if the required contribution for the lower-cost, self-only coverage does not exceed 8.3% of the household income. With respect to family members, coverage is affordable, if the required contribution for lowest-cost family coverage also does not exceed 8.3% of the household income.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the ACA’s individual mandate penalty to zero, effective beginning in 2019. This means that individuals will no longer be penalized for failing to obtain acceptable health coverage, starting in 2019. An individual qualifies for this affordability exemption if he or she must pay more than 8.3% of their household income for minimum essential coverage.

Premium Tax Credit

The ACA provides premium tax credits in order to help low-income individuals and families afford health insurance. Determining the amount of a taxpayer’s premium tax credit is based on the amount of the individuals expected contribution. This value is calculated as a percentage of the taxpayer’s household income.

For decades, Boon has been offering the widest possible range of products and services tailored to the needs of government contracts. From major medical to minimum essential coverage and everything in between, Boon has been providing meaningful benefits from full-time, part time and seasonal employees with the backing of our partnerships with the country’s largest national carriers.

The Boon Blog is your resource for the most current industry updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for the latest on all things Boon!

Posted in ACA, ACA reporting, Affordable Care Act, compliance, employee benefits, employer-sponsored group health plans, government contractors, health care, health insurance | Leave a comment

Heart Health: The Most Meaningful Valentine of All

Author Benjamin Percy once said, “Matters of the heart make your world worth occupying.” Around Valentine’s Day, that may have you thinking of your sweetheart, but we’re taking a more literal approach.

The heart matters, and that’s why every February we celebrate American Heart Month by raising awareness about heart health.

What is American Heart Month?

American Heart Month is a combined campaign from the American Heart Association and other health associations to raise awareness about heart disease, other ailments of the heart, and to raise general awareness about heart health and disease prevention. For 2019, the spotlight is on talking about cholesterol. Cholesterol is a major risk factor when it comes to heart disease and strokes.

To get to the heart of it all: your heart is essential.

The heart is responsible for pumping blood through our bodies and is a huge support to crucial functions performed by other organs. Did you know heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States? Our hearts are very vulnerable to risks: cardiac arrest, strokes, and high cholesterol to name a few.

Heart attacks are another common and deadly complication. It’s important to recognize the signs of a heart attack, such as:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, nausea, or a cold sweat

What can you do to promote heart health?

Awareness is only half of the battle. It’s vital to take an active interest in your heart health and replace poor habits with healthy ones. Some examples of things you can do to improve your heart health include:

  • Eat a heart friendly diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Consume alcohol responsibly and in moderation.
  • Be diligent about managing stress.

Take heart and take care of your heart this February. It’s the best Valentine you can give yourself and the ones you love.

The Boon Blog is your source for updates in the healthcare and benefits industry and all things Boon! Make sure you follow us to keep up with the latest!

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Boon Buzz: 2019 in Benefits, So Far…

We might only be a few weeks into the new year, but 2019 hit the ground running in the world of benefits. Here are the highlights of what should already be on your 2019 radar:

  1. The IRS Has Started to Enforce 2016’s “Pay or Play”

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began issuing enforcement letters regarding employer compliance with the shared responsibility rules under the Affordable Care Act, in late 2018.

Only Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) are sent these letters and the determination of whether an ALE may be liable for a penalty is based on the information in forms 1094-C and 1095-C.

If an ALE receives this enforcement letter, they must either agree with the IRS’s determination of  employer shared responsibility or formally disagree before the  penalty is assessed and payment is demanded. ALEs must respond within 30 days from the date of the letter.

  1. FSA Limit Increases in 2019

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has historically set a dollar limit on health flexible spending account (FSA) contributions. Typically, cost of living adjustments are a consideration in setting this limit and the limit may be increased each year.

The same will be true in 2019. As of November 2018 the FSA contribution limit was increased from $2650 to $2700, effective with the 2019 tax year. This contribution limit increase is par for the course and in step with similar increases made over the past few years.

It’s important for employers that offer FSA’s to their employees to communicate the new 2019 limit during the open enrollment process.

It would appear that the word of 2019 is “Compliance.” At Boon, Compliance is our middle name; it’s also part of our New Year’s Resolution to keep providing competitive benefits solutions for government contractors.

The Boon Blog is your source for the latest in industry updates and all things Boon! Give us a follow and get the highlights of the industry, direct to your inbox. You can also keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

Posted in ACA, ACA reporting, compliance, employee benefits, IRS | Leave a comment

Boon Buzz: Data Privacy and You

In our technology-driven world, there is nothing more important than respectful and thorough protection of online privacy, keeping your data secure and safe, and enabling trust. In January, we celebrate Data Privacy Day in an effort to educate and empower individuals and businesses to take action and protect their online data.

What is data privacy?

Data privacy, also known as data protection, is the relationship between the collection and distribution of data, as well as the technology, public expectation of privacy, and legal and political issues related to the protection of personal and company data.

Why is data privacy so important?

Your personal information or business information is just as valuable as the money in your bank account and it needs to be protected!

Think about your personal information. What would you be comfortable with a total stranger knowing? Your name and workplace? Maybe. Your address and personal phone number? Hold on a minute. How about your social security number and bank information? Stop right there!

For businesses, not only is all of that personal employee information at risk, but your client lists and important financial information associated with your business can also be exposed. In the wrong hands, your data can lead to devastation.

Check out this blog post for more examples of how cybercriminals hunt for and exploit data.

Data Privacy in the Workplace

It’s imperative employees understand that they play a key role in protecting company data. Here are a few examples of ways your employees can create a data friendly and safe environment:

  • Stay up-to-date and aware of all company privacy and technology policies.
  • Keep work computer updated with the latest security software and operating systems.
  • Exercise caution when working remotely and accessing work information on a personal device.
  • Practice caution when it comes to potential spam emails and be sure to report.

Personal Data Privacy

On average, 1.49 billion people log onto and use Facebook daily. That’s just one social media platform!

Consider that the average internet user is on multiple social media platforms. Factor in that many people are active in online forums and other communities. That says nothing of the online shoppers, entering valuable information and entrusting it to a host of sites. What about the app you downloaded so you could get your horoscope?

That’s a lot of data flying around! Here are some of the top ways to make sure your information is staying safe:

  • Be aware of how websites and apps are collecting and using your information. Read the user agreements.
  • When posting on social media, be mindful of what a post reveals and who could possibly see it.
  • Routinely check security and privacy settings on your favorite apps, devices, and accounts.
  • Only use secure networks when making online purchases.
  • Share information and awareness on how to protect your data.

Stay safe online!

The Boon Blog is your source for industry updates and news and all things Boon! Follow us to get the best of Boon and catch up with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Mentor-Protégé Programs: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know

We can all think of one time or another when we needed a little guidance. When someone wiser (or maybe just bigger and tougher) than us had to come through and lend a helping hand. Or maybe you’ve been that person.

We often tend to think of business as cutthroat and competitive to a fault, and often it is. But the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé program is an opportunity to get back to the basics of just being a boon to your peers and to learn from those who are making it happen.

The purpose of the Mentor-Protégé program is to develop stronger small firms (the protégés) through business development assistance provided by mentors. It allows smaller businesses to tap into the expertise and capital of larger firms. The overarching goal being that, when a larger firm takes a smaller firm under their wing, it will help that smaller firm compete for (and win!) government contracts.

The Department of Defense provides incentives to their major contractors to furnish these disadvantaged smaller firms with this assistance.

These big fish firms that are taking part in these Mentor-Protégé programs have resources, numbers, and the know-how to help a smaller firm grow their business. Some areas where mentor-provided assistance can be a boon are: Financial Assistance, Trade Education, Business Development Assistance, Contracting Assistance, and General Administrative Assistance.

Whether you need to build up your human resources, discover your market, or build up your business strategy while pursuing contracting and partnership opportunities, mentor firms are out there.

A Mentor-Protégé program allows the two firms to sign a teaming agreement to partner together and compete for contracts.

So how does one become a mentor or a protégé?

For protégés, size matters. In particular, it begs the question “are you a small business concern”?

To be eligible for assistance, small businesses must be organized for profit, operate primarily within the United States, have a place of business located in the United States, and make significant contributions to the economy of the United Statements (via your taxes or through your use of American products and labor).

How do you know if you’re a small business?

The SBA will count the number of employees and receipts for your business, and any of your affiliates whether they’re foreign or domestic.

In the case of mentors, it’s really just as simple as being ready, willing, and able. Any business, large or small, that desires to assist small businesses may act as a mentor and receive benefits. The SBA will review a mentor’s tax returns, financial statements, and any SEC filings to determine whether or not the mentor is financially fit and able to take on the responsibility of mentoring. Generally, mentors will only work with one protégé, at a time, though there are some exceptions to this rule.

The nuts and bolts of the Mentor-Protégé program are as follows:

  • There must be a written agreement, acknowledging the protégé’s needs and setting forth a detailed description and timeline for the mentor’s commitments to the protégé and how those needs are going to be addressed.
  • Ensure that the mentor will provide the required assistance to the protégé for at least one year
  • Provide that either party may terminate the agreement with 30 days advance notice to the other party and to the SBA

When you succeed with the mentor-protégé program, we will be there for the job of matching benefits between companies.

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