The IRS has completed drafts of the 2015 forms and instructions for employers, insurers, and other health plan sponsors to use to meet their reporting obligations for the employer and individual mandates under the Affordable Care Act. These new forms and instructions include:

The new drafts largely follow the forms issued for those who voluntarily chose to report information for 2014. The most significant changes include additional procedural guidance on obtaining extensions and filing corrections, instructions for governmental employers on designating another governmental entity to complete the reports, and clarifications on the reporting of coverage for COBRA participants.

Although the new forms are identified as drafts, we expect the final forms will look very similar. Employers and others should now refer to these forms, along with the accompanying instructions, as they prepare to meet the new reporting requirements.

In the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, Congress provided additional incentives for addressing the new reporting requirements properly. That Act increases penalties for failing to meet the new reporting requirements (and certain older reporting requirements) from $100 to $250 per form, with the maximum limit on penalties rising from $1.5 million per year to $3 million per year. For 2015, penalties will not be imposed on employers who can demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with the requirements. Good faith compliance will generally include the timely filing of reports.

As the federal health care reform effort gained steam, Ballard Spahr attorneys established the Health Care Reform Initiative to monitor and analyze legislative developments. With federal health care reform now a reality, our attorneys are assisting health care entities and employers in understanding the relevant changes and planning for the future. They also have launched the Health Care Reform Dashboard, an online resource center for news and analysis on developments under the Affordable Care Act.