Name: Joe Popp, JD, LLM
Posts by Joe Popp, JD, LLM:
Obamacare is back in the news as a top story! Why? Because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that closely held, for-profit companies can claim religious exemption to avoid providing health insurance coverage for contraceptives.
An Obamacare provision stated that businesses with more than 50 employees must cover preventive care services, including birth control and morning-after pills to female employees. Today’s Supreme Court ruling provides relief for many U.S. for-profit companies by giving way to this religious exemption. Now companies that feel offering health insurance the covers contraceptives goes against their religious beliefs can opt out of providing this kind of coverage. Check out this New York Times article which provides a more in-depth look at the today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Of course, its too early to tell the practical impact of this decision – insurance companies are free to choose which kind of coverage is covered by their insurance plans, and the relative pricing of those plans, after all.
Do you feel like today’s Supreme Court ruling could impact your business and the health insurance coverage you offer to your employees? If it does, and you need help, contact Rea & Associates. Our health care reform tax experts can help you determine how it affects you and your business.
Author: Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)
Interested in other Obamacare-related blog posts? Check these out:
You may have heard some buzz lately about the Obama administration and/or the IRS barring employers from “dumping” employees onto the health care exchanges – with some truly severe cash penalties for doing so. But is this really “new” news? What exactly does this mean? It might surprise you to know that employee dumping is not all it seems.
A recent New York Times article explains that “employee dumping” is the practice where an employer drops health insurance coverage to its employees, the employees go to the health care exchange to buy insurance, and then the employer on a pre-tax basis reimburses its employees for their premiums. This “have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” approach (with various ways to accomplish it) was one of the leading responses to this legislation that Obamacare consultants developed. The administrating agencies (IRS, HHS, DOL) shut this option down when they issues guidance in September 2013. ANY attempt by an employer to pay an employee a pre-tax benefit for health insurance has since then been a very dangerous approach, although some exceptions exist (e.g. retirees only). This current “news” is simply a clarification that these things are indeed busted.
Can You Still Drop Health Care Insurance Coverage?
What if you want to drop your coverage, send employees to the exchange, and then increase their after-tax pay so that they can pay for exchange insurance? That’s OK, it doesn’t conflict with the rules. It’s only pre-tax benefits you should be concerned with.
What if you increase worker pay as I just described, and then the employee sinks that cash into an HSA that they get from a bank (for free)? That gets them a tax deduction (up to certain limits) … is that OK? Yes! Remember that what the IRS is looking to prevent is employers trying to give pre-tax benefits without offering insurance – that is the “evil” that these regulations are designed to combat. Once the employer pays taxable wages to an employee, the employee is free to use whatever means they have available to be tax efficient.
A Pit Trap For The Unwary
So is “employee dumping” limited to the situation where employers are trying to push tax-free cash to employees? Actually no, and this is why I refer to this as “a pit trap for the unwary.” Dumping also refers to the practice of employers encouraging workers with high medical bills to go to the exchange.
What exactly does this mean? Think of it this way … As an employer, you have an insurance plan that still takes into account the health and claims of your workforce (they still exist). If you can get an employee to the exchange that has $400,000 of medical costs a year, you could potentially save a large sum of money and your employee is not harmed because they can get quality coverage on the exchange for no more than a healthy individual can.
Some companies throw a cash kicker on top for the employee to voluntarily drop coverage (what’s an extra $10,000 in cash if you are saving $100,000+). Everybody wins, right? Well, not the Exchange. If it’s discovered that you – the employer – are doing this, there are administrative rules in place that can throw that cost back at you. Insurance companies have a duty to report suspected employee dumping, so be careful!
Have you considered “dumping” or are you unsure if you’re heading down this path? If so, contact Rea & Associates. Our team of Ohio tax professionals can help you determine what path is best for you to take, as well as help you stay in compliance with Obamacare rules and avoid any pitfalls along the way.
Author: Joe Popp, JD, LLM (Dublin office)
Interested in reading more on how Obamacare will impact you and your business? Check out these posts:
You’ve probably never received a Valentine’s Day gift from the IRS, but this year you did! On Monday, the IRS issued final regulations on Obamacare’s employer shared responsibility payment provision, otherwise known as the “pay or play” provision. Like many things the IRS announces, there’s quite a bit a fine print. This time is no exception. Check out some of the highlights of the final regulations and learn what you need to know moving forward. Read the rest of this entry “
Do you use your personal vehicle for business purposes when you’re on the clock? Or do you use your vehicle medical, moving or charitable purposes? If so, did you know that you can claim a tax deduction on the mileage you rack up? Read the rest of this entry “
Things are continually changing on the Obamacare front. I wanted to provide you with a brief update since my blog post from last Friday. In last Friday’s post, I explained that today (Dec. 23, 2013) was the last day for individuals to sign-up for insurance through the federal government (“the Exchange”) that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. However, the Obama administration announced today that it is extending the deadline by one day. If you’re interested in obtaining health insurance through the Exchange, you can now enroll through tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 24. For more information on the deadline extension, view this recent CNNMoney article. Read the rest of this entry “