Weekend Update

The weekend update is a little late this week because the FEHBlog did not return home from Connecticut until late last night. A good time was had by all.

This is expected to be Congress’s last week in DC before the August recess. Here’s a link to the Week [that was] in Congress.

The Congressional Budget Office just released more information on national heath care spending projections.

In tomorrow’s Federal Register, OPM will publish a proposed rule that extends FEHBP coverage with a government contribution to temporary, seasonal, and intermittent federal employees who work 130 hours a month beginning next year. This change is being driven by the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility mandate, but in the FEHBlog’s opinion, the FEHBA, 5 U.S.C. § 8913, authorizes OPM to take this action.

OPM projects in the rule’s preamble. that this change will not generate many new enrollees because most of the affected employees already have coverage from other sources. The irony is that the ACA imposes an enormous excise tax on insured FEHB plan carriers and other health insurers and HMOs to mop up the “excess profits” stemming from the ACA’s shared responsbility mandates

And speaking of ACA burdens, the IRS last week posted draft forms (1094c and 1095c) that FEHB plan carriers and all other health plans will use to report to the IRS on whether their members comply with the ACA’s individual shared responsibility mandate. This process involves a tremendous administrative burden of of collecting all covered family member Social Security Numbers which of course the IRS uses as Tax Identification Numbers. Remember folks that this collection effort benefits you, not the carrier.

By the way, also last week the IRS announced the cap on the 2014 tax on individuals who don’t have minimum essential coverage —

For 2014, the annual payment amount is:
The greater of:
1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status, or
Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a family maximum of $285,
But capped at the cost of the national average premium for a bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. For 2014, the annual national average premium for a bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace is $2,448 per individual ($204 per month per individual), but $12,240 for a family with five or more members ($1,020 per month for a family with five or more members).  See Rev. Proc. 2014-46.

P.S. The IRS delayed the required distribution of these forms until January 2016 for the 2015 tax year.