HEALTH CARE REFORM TIMELINE
|Health insurance policies that provide dependent coverage must make coverage available for dependents up to age 26||Voluntary long-term care insurance options available for adults who become disabled||Improvements on electronic exchange of health information to reduce paperwork, administrative burdens and costs||Individuals must obtain health insurance coverage or pay a penalty (some exemptions apply)||Health insurance provider fee imposed in 2015 and increased annually|
|Uninsured individuals with pre-existing conditions can obtain health insurance through a high-risk health insurance pool program||Consumer rebates for excessive medical loss ratios||Annual health flexible savings account (FSA) contributions limited to $2,500||Employers with 50 or more employees must offer coverage to their employees or pay a penalty||High-cost plan excise tax established in 2018|
|Affordable coverage will be identified by the HHS and a website will be established for residents of any state to locate coverage||Employers to report health coverage costs on form W-2 (optional for 2011; mandatory for later years, except small employers do not need to comply until further guidance issued)||Medicare Part D subsidy deduction eliminated||State health insurance exchanges to be established|
|Reinsurance for covering early retirees will provide reimbursement for a portion of the cost of providing health insurance (program closed to new applicants as of May 5, 2011)||“Qualified Medical Expenses” definition change requires a prescription to reimburse OTC medicine or drugs||Income threshold for claiming itemized deduction for medical expenses increased||Health insurance companies will not be able to discriminate against individuals based on health status|
|Limits on lifetime dollar value of benefits for any individual covered by group or individual health insurance eliminated||Simple Cafeteria Plan will be created to provide small businesses an easier way to sponsor a cafeteria plan||Hospital insurance tax for high wage workers increased||Individual health care tax credits available for certain individuals|
|Pre-existing condition exclusions will be eliminated for children||Medicare Part D discounts (50% discount on brand-name drugs)||Medical device excise tax established||Second phase of small business tax credit|
|Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage must cover preventive health services||Increase of penalty taxes on withdrawals from HSAs (prior to age 65) and Archer MSAs which are not used for qualified medical expenses||Assessment of health insurance provider fee|
|Rescissions in all new and existing plans will be prohibited in most cases; plan coverage may not be cancelled without prior notice to the enrollee||Free annual wellness visit for Medicare beneficiaries and elimination of cost sharing||No limits on annual dollar value of benefits for any individual covered by group or individual health insurance|
|Fully insured group health plans must satisfy nondiscrimination rules regarding participation and benefit eligibility (Note: delayed for regulations)||Pre-existing condition health insurance exclusions eliminated for adults|
|Employers must improve the appeals process for appeals of coverage determinations and claims (some rules delayed until plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2012)||2012|
|Small business health care tax credit available||Plans must provide 4-page uniform summary of benefits and coverage|
|Rebates for the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole”sent to eligible enrollees|
|States may expand Medicaid eligibility|
|Indoor tanning services tax imposed|
HEALTH CARE REFORM EXPLANATION
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law the health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This legislation, along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, makes sweeping changes to the U.S. health care system. These changes will be implemented over the next several years.
This Better Business Planning, Inc. Legislative Brief provides a timeline of the implementation of key reform provisions that affect employers and individuals regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and their Chicago insurance. Please read below for more information and contact Better Business Planning, Inc. with any questions about how you can prepare for any of the health care reform requirements.
EXPANDED INSURANCE COVERAGE
The health care reform law contains some provisions designed to provide improvements in access to health care coverage in 2010.
• Extended Coverage for Young Adults. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provide dependent coverage of children must make coverage available for adult children up to age 26. There is no requirement to cover the child or spouse of a dependent child. This requirement applies to grandfathered and new plans. However, grandfathered plans need not cover adult children who are eligible for other employer-sponsored coverage, such as coverage through their own employer, until 2014.
The Reconciliation Act added a new tax provision related to health insurance coverage for these adult children. Effective March 30, 2010, amounts spent on medical care for an eligible adult child can generally be excluded from taxable income.
Note: A “grandfathered plan” is one in which an individual was enrolled on March 23, 2010, and to which there is no significant change to existing coverage. Many requirements of the new law do not apply to grandfathered plans and nothing in the law requires that individuals terminate coverage in which they were enrolled when the law was passed. A plan can still be a grandfathered plan even if family members or new employees are allowed to join.
• Access to Insurance for Uninsured Individuals with Pre-Existing Conditions. The health care reform law provided for the establishment of a temporary high risk health insurance pool program to provide health insurance coverage for certain uninsured individuals with pre-existing conditions. The program will end in 2014, when the health insurance exchanges are set to be operational.
• Identifying Affordable Coverage. As required, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has established an Internet website through which residents of any state may identify affordable health insurance coverage options in that state. The website also includes information for small businesses about available coverage options, reinsurance for early retirees, small business tax credits, and other information of interest to small businesses. So-called “mini-med” or limited-benefit plans will be precluded from listing their policies on this website.
• Reinsurance for Covering Early Retirees. The new law established a temporary reinsurance program to provide reimbursement to participating employment-based plans for a portion of the cost of providing health insurance coverage to early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses and dependents. This program will end on Jan. 1, 2014, or, if earlier, when the $5 billion in funding is paid out. Due to the program’s popularity, it closed to new applications effective May 5, 2011.
HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM
The health care reform law also imposes requirements on health insurance issuers to reform certain insurance practices and improve the coverage available.
• Eliminating Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions for Children. Group health plans and health insurance issuers may not impose pre-existing condition exclusions on coverage for children under age 19. This provision will apply to all employer plans and new plans in the individual market. This provision will also apply to adults in 2014.
• Coverage of Preventive Health Services. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage must provide coverage for preventive services. These plans also may not impose cost sharing requirements for preventive services. Grandfathered plans are exempt from this requirement.
• Prohibiting Rescissions. The health care reform law prohibits rescissions, or retroactive cancellations, of coverage. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual insurance coverage may not rescind coverage once the enrollee is covered, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Plan coverage may not be cancelled without prior notice to the enrollee. This provision applies to all new and existing plans.
• Limits on Lifetime and Annual Limits. In general, group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not establish lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits for any participant or beneficiary or impose unreasonable annual limits on the dollar value of benefits for any participant or beneficiary. This requirement applies to all plans, although plans may request a waiver of the annual limit requirement. The annual limit waiver program will be close to applications effective Sept. 22, 2011. Annual limits will also be prohibited beginning in 2014.
HEALTH PLAN ADMINISTRATION
In addition to any administrative changes required by the coverage improvements described above, health plans will be subject to increased administrative duties under health care reform.
• Improved Appeals Process. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage must implement an effective appeals process for appeals of coverage determinations and claims. At a minimum, plans and issuers must:
o have an internal claims process in effect;
o provide information to claimants in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner in some situations; and
o allow enrollees to review their files, to present evidence and testimony as part of the appeals process, and to receive continued coverage pending the outcome of the appeals process.
The internal claims process must initially incorporate the current claims procedure regulations issued by the Department of Labor in 2001. A grace period for some of the internal appeals process rules has been provided until plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2012. Plans and issuers must also implement an external review process that meets applicable state or federal requirements.
• Nondiscrimination Rules for Fully Insured Plans. Fully insured group health plans will have to satisfy nondiscrimination rules regarding eligibility to participate in the plan and eligibility for benefits. These rules prohibit discrimination in favor of highly compensated individuals. This section does not apply to grandfathered plans. This provision was set to take effect for plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010. However, it has been delayed indefinitely pending the issuance of regulations. The regulations will specify the new effective date.
The health care reform law will further affect individuals by making certain changes to Medicare and Medicaid.
• Rebates for the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole.” Currently, there is a coverage gap, or “donut hole,” in most Medicare Part D plans. Once the plan and participant have paid $2,840 in total drug costs ($2,930 for 2012), the participant is in the coverage gap. The coverage gap ends when the participant has spent $4,550 ($4,700 for 2012) out of pocket for drug costs in a calendar year. Health care reform provides a $250 rebate check for all Medicare Part D enrollees who enter the donut hole. Beginning in 2011, a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs will be instituted and generic drug coverage will be provided in the donut hole. The donut hole gap will be filled by 2020.
• Medicaid Flexibility for States. States are given a new option under the health care reform law to cover additional individuals under Medicaid. States will be able to cover parents and childless adults up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).
FEES AND TAXES
With a total estimated cost of over $900 billion dollars, the reform of the nation’s health care system comes with additional costs and fees. These fees will also be implemented over the next several years. However, health care reform also includes some subsidies, in the form of tax credits, to help individuals and businesses pay for coverage.
• Small Business Tax Credit. The first phase of the small business tax credit for qualified small employers began in 2010. These employers can receive a credit for contributions to purchase health insurance for employees. The credit is up to 35 percent of the employer’s contribution to provide health insurance for employees. There is also up to a 25 percent credit for small nonprofit organizations. When health insurance exchanges are operational, tax credits will increase, up to 50 percent of premiums.
• Indoor Tanning Services Tax. One additional tax imposed by the health care reform law is a 10 percent tax on amounts paid for indoor sun tanning services.
EXPANDED INSURANCE COVERAGE
• Voluntary Long-Term Care Insurance Options. The health care reform law creates a long-term care insurance program for adults who become disabled. Participation will be voluntary and the program is to be funded by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become disabled. Although the program was technically effective Jan. 1, 2011, significant portions are not required to be established until 2012.
HEALTH PLAN ADMINISTRATION
• Improving Medical Loss Ratios. Health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage (including grandfathered health plans) must annually report on the share of premium dollars spent on health care and provide consumer rebates for excessive medical loss ratios.
• Standardizing the Definition of Qualified Medical Expenses. The health care reform law conforms the definition of “qualified medical expenses” for HSAs, FSAs and HRAs to the definition used for the itemized tax deduction. This means that expenses for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and drugs may not be reimbursed by these plans unless they are accompanied by a prescription. There is an exception for insulin. Also, OTC medical supplies and devices may continue to be reimbursed without a prescription.
• Cafeteria Plan Changes. The new law creates a Simple Cafeteria Plan to provide a vehicle through which small businesses can provide tax free benefits to their employees. This plan is designed to ease the small employer’s administrative burden of sponsoring a cafeteria plan. The provision also exempts employers who make contributions for employees under a simple cafeteria plan from certain nondiscrimination requirements applicable to highly compensated and key employees.
• Medicare Part D Discounts. In order to make prescription drug coverage more affordable for Medicare enrollees, the new law will provide a 50 percent discount on all brand-name drugs and biologics in the “donut hole.” It also begins phasing in additional discounts on brand-name and generic drugs to completely fill the donut hole by 2020 for all Part D enrollees.
• Additional Preventive Health Coverage. The new law provides a free, annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan services for Medicare beneficiaries and eliminates cost-sharing for preventive services beginning in 2011.
FEES AND TAXES
• Increased Tax on Withdrawals from HSAs and Archer MSAs. The health care reform law increased the additional tax on HSA withdrawals prior to age 65 that are not used for qualified medical expenses from 10 to 20 percent. The additional tax for Archer MSA withdrawals not used for qualified medical expenses also increased from 15 to 20 percent.
HEALTH PLAN ADMINISTRATION
• Uniform Summary of Benefits and Coverage. All new and grandfathered health plans will be required to provide a uniform summary of the plan’s benefits and coverage to participants. HHS is required to develop standards for the summary by March 2011, and plans will have to start using it by March 2012. The summary will have to be written in easily understood language and will be limited to 4 pages. Any changes to the information contained in the summary will have to be provided to participants 60 days in advance.
• Reporting Health Coverage Costs on Form W-2. Employers will be required to disclose the value of the health coverage provided by the employer to each employee on the employee’s annual Form W-2. Note that this requirement is effective, but optional, for the 2011 tax year and will be mandatory for later years for most employers. This requirement is optional for small employers (those filing fewer than 250 Form W-2s) at least for the 2012 tax year and will remain optional until further guidance is issued.
HEALTH PLAN ADMINISTRATION
• Administrative Simplification. Beginning in 2013, health plans must adopt and implement uniform standards and business rules for the electronic exchange of health information to reduce paperwork and administrative burdens and costs.
• Limiting Health Flexible Savings Account Contributions. The health care law will limit the amount of salary reduction contributions to health FSAs to $2,500 per year, indexed by CPI for subsequent years.
FEES AND TAXES
• Eliminating Deduction for Medicare Part D Subsidy. Currently, employers that receive the Medicare Part D retiree drug subsidy may take a tax deduction for their prescription drug costs, including costs attributable to the subsidy. The deduction for the retiree drug subsidy will be eliminated in 2013.
• Increased Threshold for Medical Expense Deductions. The health care reform law increases the income threshold for claiming the itemized deduction for medical expenses from 7.5 percent of income to 10 percent. However, individuals over 65 would be able to claim the itemized deduction for medical expenses at 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income through 2016.
• Additional Hospital Insurance Tax for High Wage Workers. The new law increases the hospital insurance tax rate by 0.9 percentage points on wages over $200,000 for an individual ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly). The tax is also expanded to include a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income in the case of taxpayers earning over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint returns).
• Medical Device Excise Tax. The law also establishes a 2.3 percent excise tax on the first sale for use of a medical device. Eye glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, and any device of a type that is generally purchased by the public at retail for individual use are excepted from the tax.
• Individual Coverage Mandates. The health care reform legislation requires most individuals to obtain acceptable health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, beginning in 2014. The penalty will start at $95 per person for 2014 and increase each year. The penalty amount increases to $325 in 2015 and to $695 (or up to 2.5 percent of income) in 2016, up to a cap of the national average bronze plan premium. After 2016, dollar amounts are indexed. Families will pay half the penalty amount for children, up to a cap of $2,250 per family. Individuals may be eligible for an exemption from the penalty if they cannot obtain affordable coverage.
• Employer Coverage Requirements. Employers with 50 or more employees that do not offer coverage to their employees will be subject to penalties if any employee receives a government subsidy for health coverage. The penalty amount is up to $2,000 annually for each full-time employee, excluding the first 30 employees. Employers who offer coverage, but whose employees receive tax credits, will be subject to a fine of $3,000 for each worker receiving a tax credit, up to an aggregate cap of $2,000 per full-time employee. Employers will be required to report to the federal government on health coverage they provide.
HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGES
The health care reform legislation provides for health insurance exchanges to be established in each state in 2014. Individuals and small employers will be able to shop for insurance through the exchanges. Small employers are those with no more than 100 employees. If a small employer later grows above 100 employees, it may still be treated as a small employer. Large employers with over 100 employees are to be allowed into the exchanges in 2017. The health care reform legislation provided that workers who qualified for an affordability exemption to the coverage mandate, but did not qualify for tax credits, could use their employer contribution to join an exchange plan. This requirement is known as the “free choice voucher” provision. The federal appropriations bill signed by President Obama on April 15, 2011, eliminated the free choice voucher provision from health care reform.
HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM
Additional health insurance reform measures will be implemented beginning in 2014.
• Guaranteed Issue and Renewability. Health insurance issuers offering health insurance coverage in the individual or group market in a state must accept every employer and individual in the state that applies for coverage and must renew or continue to enforce the coverage at the option of the plan sponsor or the individual.
• Pre-existing Condition Exclusions. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, group health plans and health insurance issuers may not impose pre-existing condition exclusions on any covered individual, regardless of the individual’s age.
• Insurance Premium Restrictions. Health insurance issuers will not be permitted to charge higher rates due to heath status, gender or other factors. Premiums will be able to vary based only on age (no more than 3:1), geography, family size, and tobacco use.
• Nondiscrimination Based on Health Status. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage (except grandfathered plans) may not establish rules for eligibility or continued eligibility based on health status-related factors.
• Nondiscrimination in Health Care. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual insurance coverage may not discriminate against any provider operating within their scope of practice. However, this provision does not require a plan to contract with any willing provider or prevent tiered networks. It also does not apply to grandfathered plans. Plans and issuers also may not discriminate against individuals based on whether they receive subsidies or cooperate in a Fair Labor Standards Act investigation.
• Annual Limits. Restricted annual limits will be permitted until 2014. However, in 2014, the plans and issuers may not impose annual limits on the amount of coverage an individual may receive.
• Excessive Waiting Periods. Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage will not be able to require a waiting period of more than 90 days.
• Coverage for Clinical Trial Participants. Non-grandfathered group health plans and insurance policies will not be able to terminate coverage because an individual chooses to participate in a clinical trial for cancer or other life-threatening diseases or deny coverage for routine care that they would otherwise provide just because an individual is enrolled in such a clinical trial.
• Comprehensive Benefits Coverage. Health insurance issuers that offer health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market will be required to provide the essential benefits package required of plans sold in the health insurance exchanges. This requirement does not apply to grandfathered plans.
• Limits on Cost-Sharing. Non-grandfathered group health plans will be subject to limits on cost-sharing or out-of-pocket costs. Out-of-pocket expenses may not exceed the amount applicable to coverage related to HSAs and deductibles may not exceed $2,000 (single coverage) or $4,000 (family coverage). These amounts are indexed for subsequent years. Further guidance on which plans will have to apply these limits would be helpful.
EMPLOYER WELLNESS PROGRAMS
Under health care reform, the rules for employer wellness programs will be changed slightly. Existing wellness regulations under HIPAA permit wellness incentives of up to 20 percent of the total premium, as long as the program meets certain conditions. Under health care reform, the potential incentive increases to 30 percent of the premium in 2014 for employee participation in the program or meeting certain health standards. Employers must offer an alternative standard for those employees whom it is unreasonably difficult or inadvisable to meet the standard. Following a governmental study on wellness programs, the incentive may be increased to as much as 50 percent.
FEES AND TAXES
Individual Health Care Tax Credits. The new law makes premium tax credits available through the exchanges to ensure people can obtain affordable coverage. Credits are available for people with incomes above Medicaid eligibility and below 400 percent of poverty level who are not eligible for or offered other acceptable coverage. The credits apply to both premiums and cost-sharing.
Small Business Tax Credit. The second phase of the small business tax credit for qualified small employers will be implemented in 2014. These employers can receive a credit for contributions to purchase health insurance for employees, up to 50 percent of premiums.
Health Insurance Provider Fee. The health care reform law imposes an annual, non-deductible fee on the health insurance sector, allocated across the industry according to market share. The fee does not apply to companies whose net premiums written are $25 million or less.
HIGH COST PLAN EXCISE TAX
A 40 percent excise tax is to be imposed on the excess benefit of high cost employer-sponsored health insurance. This tax is also known as a “Cadillac tax.” The annual limit for purposes of calculating the excess benefits is $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for other than individual coverage. Responsibility for the tax is on the “coverage provider” which can be the insurer, the employer, or a third-party administrator. There are a number of exceptions and special rules for high coverage cost states and different job classifications.