New Affordable Care Act final rules will allow employers to split the payment of a $63-per-employee fee in 2015.
The rules, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in March, mean that a special $63 “reinsurance” tax on employers can be paid in two installments starting in 2015.
The fees are part of ACA provisions designed to collect $25 billion in “reinsurance” taxes from employers who sponsor health plans for their workers over a period of three years. The money will be used to partially reimburse insurance companies that are writing policies in public insurance exchanges.
According to the final rules, employers would be able to pay $52.50 for each employee participating in a company-sponsored health plan by Jan. 15, 2015, and a final payment of $10.50 in the fourth quarter of that year.
“We recognize that the reinsurance collections provided for in the Affordable Care Act will result in substantial up-front payments from contributing entities for the reinsurance program. Therefore, in consideration of the comments received, we are finalizing our proposal to collect contributions via two payments,” the final rules said.
In the second year of the tax, 2016, the fee will be reduced to $44 per plan enrollee.
HHS has not proposed the amount of the fee for the third and final year of the program.
That’s because the final rules will exempt self-insured and self-administered plans from the fees in 2015 and 2016. And that, health reform pundits say, will leave collections short of the $25 billion target, which could portend a higher than expected tax on employer plans in the final year of the tax, 2017.
HHS said its reading of the law is that self-insured and self-administered plans “should not be a contributing entity,” adding that few plans will qualify for the exemption.
Congressional Republicans have criticized the fee, saying it’s an unfair tax because employers will receive nothing in return for paying it.