1 EmPowerHR Legislative Brief: PAY OR PLAY PENALTIES LOOK BACK MEASUREMENT METHOD EXAMPLES The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a penalty on applicable large employers (ALEs) that do not offer health insurance coverage to substantially all full time employees and dependents. Penalties may also be imposed if coverage is offered, but is unaffordable or does not provide minimum value. The ACA s employer penalty rules are often referred to as employer shared responsibility or pay or play rules. The employer penalty provisions were set to take effect on Jan. 1, However, in July 2013, the Treasury delayed the employer penalties and related reporting requirements for one year, until Therefore, no penalties will apply to any employers for Smaller ALEs may also be eligible for an additional one year delay, until On Feb. 12, 2014, the IRS published final regulations on the ACA s employer shared responsibility rules. The final regulations provide an optional safe harbor method that employers can use for determining full time status, called the look back measurement method. The look back measurement method involves a measurement period for counting hours of service, a stability period when coverage may need to be provided, depending on an employee s average hours of service during the measurement period, and an administrative period that allows time for enrollment and disenrollment. This Legislative Brief provides examples of potential measurement, administrative and stability periods for plan years beginning in each month throughout the 2015 and 2016 calendar years. These examples assume that the employer will be using a 12 month standard measurement period, a two month administrative period and a 12 month stability period.
2 It also provides examples of optional transition measurement periods in 2015, if allowed for the plan year. The final regulations allow employers to use shorter measurement periods for stability periods starting in 2015 under the look back measurement method. For 2015, employers can determine fulltime status by reference to a transition measurement period in 2014 that: Is shorter than 12 consecutive months, but not less than six consecutive months long; and Begins no later than July 1, 2014, and ends no earlier than 90 days before the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after Jan. 1, If permitted under the employer shared responsibility rules with respect to their plan years, employers can choose to use either the standard measurement period or the transition measurement period for stability periods beginning in PLAN YEAR SELECTION The final rules state that the plan year must be 12 consecutive months, unless a short plan year of less than 12 consecutive months is permitted for a valid business purpose. A plan year may begin on any day of a year and must end on the preceding day in the following year (for example, a plan year that begins on Oct. 15, 2015, must end on Oct. 14, 2016). Once established, a plan year is effective for the first plan year and for all subsequent plan years unless it is changed, provided that such change will only be recognized if made for a valid business purpose. Note that a change in the plan year is not permitted if the principal purpose of the change in plan year is to avoid the employer shared responsibility requirements. CALENDAR YEAR PLANS A calendar year plan is a health plan that has a plan year running on the calendar year. Thus, the plan year of a calendar year plan is a period of 12 consecutive months beginning on Jan. 1 and ending on Dec. 31 of the same calendar year. PLAN YEAR: JAN. 1 DEC Plan Year Nov. 1, 2013 Oct. 31, 2014 May 1, 2014 Oct. 31, 2014 Nov. 1, 2014 Dec. 31, 2014 Jan. 1, 2015 Dec. 31, Plan Year Nov. 1, 2014 Oct. 31, 2015 N/A Nov. 1, 2015 Dec. 31, 2015 Jan. 1, 2016 Dec. 31, 2016
3 NON CALENDAR YEAR PLANS A non calendar year plan is a health plan that has a plan year that does not run on the calendar year. Thus, the plan year of a non calendar year plan is a period of 12 consecutive months beginning in any month after Jan. 1. As a result, the plan year of a non calendar year plan will run during parts of two consecutive calendar years. PLAN YEAR: FEB. 1 JAN Plan Year Dec. 1, 2013 Nov. 30, 2014 June 1, 2014 Nov. 30, 2014 Dec. 1, 2014 Jan. 31, 2015 Feb. 1, 2015 Jan. 31, Plan Year Dec. 1, 2014 Nov. 30, 2015 N/A Dec. 1, 2015 Jan. 31, 2016 Feb. 1, 2016 Jan. 31, 2017 PLAN YEAR: MARCH 1 FEB. 28 (OR FEB. 29, DURING A LEAP YEAR) 2015 Plan Year Jan. 1, 2014 Dec. 31, 2014 July 1, 2014 Dec. 31, 2014 Jan. 1, 2015 Feb. 28, 2015 March 1, 2015 Feb. 29, Plan Year Jan. 1, 2015 Dec. 31, 2015 N/A Jan. 1, 2016 Feb. 29, 2016 March 1, 2016 Feb. 28, 2017 PLAN YEAR: APRIL 1 MARCH Plan Year Feb. 1, 2014 Jan. 31, 2015 July 1, 2014 Jan. 31, 2015 Feb. 1, 2015 March 31, 2015 April 1, 2015 March 31, Plan Year Feb. 1, 2015 Jan. 31, 2016 N/A Feb. 1, 2016 March 31, 2016 April 1, 2016 March 31, 2017 PLAN YEAR: MAY 1 APRIL Plan Year March 1, 2014 Feb. 28, 2015 July 1, 2014 Feb. 28, 2015 March 1, 2015 April 30, 2015 May 1, 2015 April 30, Plan Year March 1, 2015 Feb. 29, 2016 N/A March 1, 2016 April 30, 2016 May 1, 2016 April 30, 2017
4 PLAN YEAR: JUNE 1 MAY Plan Year 2016 Plan Year April 1, 2014 March 31, 2015 July 1, 2014 March 31, 2015 April 1, 2015 May 31, 2015 June 1, 2015 May 31, 2016 April 1, 2015 March 31, 2016 N/A April 1, 2016 May 31, 2016 June 1, 2016 May 31, 2017 PLAN YEAR: JULY 1 JUNE Plan Year May 1, 2014 April 30, 2015 July 1, 2014 April 30, 2015 May 1, 2015 June 30, 2015 July 1, 2015 June 30, Plan Year May 1, 2015 April 30, 2016 N/A May 1, 2016 June 30, 2016 July 1, 2016 June 30, 2017 PLAN YEAR: AUG. 1 JULY Plan Year June 1, 2014 May 31, 2015 July 1, 2014 May 31, 2015 June 1, 2015 July 31, 2015 Aug. 1, 2015 July 31, Plan Year June 1, 2015 May 31, 2016 N/A June 1, 2016 July 31, 2016 Aug. 1, 2016 July 31, 2017 PLAN YEAR: SEPT. 1 AUG Plan Year July 1, 2014 June 30, 2015 N/A July 1, 2015 Aug. 31, 2015 Sept. 1, 2015 Aug. 31, Plan Year July 1, 2015 June 30, 2016 N/A July 1, 2016 Aug. 31, 2016 Sept. 1, 2016 Aug. 31, 2017 PLAN YEAR: OCT. 1 SEPT Plan Year Aug. 1, 2014 July 31, 2015 N/A Aug. 1, 2015 Sept. 30, 2015 Oct. 1, 2015 Sept. 30, Plan Year Aug. 1, 2015 July 31, 2016 N/A Aug. 1, 2016 Sept. 30, 2016 Oct. 1, 2016 Sept. 30, 2017
5 PLAN YEAR: NOV. 1 OCT Plan Year Sept. 1, 2014 Aug. 31, 2015 N/A Sept. 1, 2015 Oct. 31, 2015 Nov. 1, 2015 Oct. 31, Plan Year Sept. 1, 2015 Aug. 31, 2016 N/A Sept. 1, 2016 Oct. 31, 2016 Nov. 1, 2016 Oct. 31, 2017 PLAN YEAR: DEC. 1 NOV Plan Year Oct. 1, 2014 Sept. 30, 2015 N/A Oct. 1, 2015 Nov. 30, 2015 Dec. 1, 2015 Nov. 30, Plan Year Oct. 1, 2015 Sept. 30, 2016 N/A Oct. 1, 2016 Nov. 30, 2016 Dec. 1, 2016 Nov. 30, 2017 MORE INFORMATION Please contact EmPowerHR for more information on the employer shared responsibility rules.
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