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The IRS has again (as it has in past years) extended the deadline to furnish Forms 1095-C to Affordable Care Act (ACA) full-time employees. The Service has moved the deadline to furnish the forms for 2020 from Jan. 31 to March 2, 2021. The deadlines for filing those forms with the IRS remain Feb. 28 (for paper filing) and March 31 (for electronic filing). An employer (or its reporting vendor) that needs more time to file with the IRS can get an automatic 30-day extension by filing Form 8809 electronically through the IRS’s FIRE electronic filing system, before the initial due date.

As it did last year, the IRS – because the ACA individual health insurance coverage mandate penalty has been reduced to zero – has excused employers’ obligations to provide a Form 1095-C to individuals who were covered under a self-insured medical plan for at least a day in 2020 but were not an ACA full-time employee for at least a month during that year (e.g., an individual buying COBRA coverage in 2020 but who was never an ACA full-time employee that year).

Similarly, insurers and other entities who would otherwise have had an obligation under federal law to provide a Form 1095-B to individuals, showing the months in 2020 during which the individuals had coverage for at least a day in 2020, are excused from that obligation.

But in both cases, if the employer, insurer or other reporting entity, as the case may be, wants to avoid furnishing the relevant form, it must (1) post a notice prominently on its website stating that individuals may receive a copy of their 2020 Form 1095-C or -B upon request, accompanied by an email address and a physical address to which a request may be sent, as well as a telephone number to contact the employer, insurer or other reporting entity, and (2) furnish the requested 2020 Form 1095-C or -B within 30 days of the date the request is received. The form may be furnished electronically in accordance with IRS rules. To be clear, from an employer’s perspective, the accommodation described above is limited; employers subject to the ACA employer mandate are still required to furnish a Form 1095-C to any employee who was an ACA full-time employee for even a single month in 2020, whether or not the employer offered insured or self-insured coverage and, if self-insured, whether or not that employee was enrolled.

Lockton comment: Self-insured employers will probably find it easier to simply issue the 1095-C to all primary insureds who have coverage for at least a day in 2020, in addition to all employees who were ACA full-time employees for at least a month, rather than applying different distribution rules to different classes of covered individuals. Note also that some states, including California, that now have their own individual mandate effectively require that insurers and self-funded employers also file their 1095-Cs and -Bs with the states, to the extent those forms reflect coverage in 2020 provided to a state resident.

The IRS also extended to 2020 ACA filings, apparently for the last time, it’s “good faith effort” standard.

HHS extends national health emergency, affecting coronavirus testing benefit mandate

In other news, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the HHS national health emergency to at least Jan. 21, 2021 (or 90 days from Oct. 23, 2020). The current federal mandate that requires group health plans to cover nearly all coronavirus tests has a limited lifespan, tied to the HHS emergency declaration. Remember, however, that this declaration is unrelated to the presidential national health emergency, which drives the extended windows for making COBRA elections, paying COBRA premiums, requesting HIPAA special enrollments, submitting (and appealing denied) healthcare claims, etc. under the federal authorities’ “outbreak period” guidance.