Even under the Trump administration, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still a real, enforceable law. You already know this. But do all of your employees?
Chances are, once employees start getting their ACA-mandated 1095 forms from you in the next few weeks, some of them are going to have questions — à la: What is this? I thought Trump did away with Obamacare.
Here are some of the questions employees are asking — and are bound to ask — along with how HR can answer them:
1. Didn’t Trump repeal Obamacare?
No. While he has promised to “repeal and replace” the ACA, all he has done so far is sign an executive order that directs federal agencies to grant certain exemptions from the law, as well as waive any requirements that they’re able to by law.
Surely, the executive order will eventually weaken some parts of the ACA — and maybe even lead to some repeals — but nothing concrete has happened yet. As a result, employers still have to comply with the “play or pay” mandates, and individuals still have to carry health insurance or risk penalties.
2. Didn’t Republicans in Congress start repealing the law?
No. Republicans in Congress don’t have the votes they need to repeal the ACA outright. They can’t avoid a Democratic filibuster.
As a result, what they have done is state their intention to attack the law through a process known as reconciliation. It’ll allow Republicans to vote on budgetary pieces of the law — like the individual mandate (which is imposed with a tax) and healthcare subsidies — without giving the Democrats a chance to filibuster.
The problem for Republicans, though, is that reconciliation limits how they can reshape (or repeal) Obamacare.
3. Then when will Obamacare be repealed?
All you can tell employees right now is that it hasn’t happened, and there is no clear answer on when (or even if) it will happen in its entirety.
However, Republicans recently made two things clear at its recent annual retreat in Philadelphia:
- They plans to use the reconciliation process to “repeal and replace” parts of the law.
- The GOP will bring a final reconciliation package to the floor of the House of Representatives by late February or early March.
Chances are, we’ll find out more once Trump’s cabinet picks — specifically his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services — have been confirmed.
4. If I have a pre-existing condition, will I have trouble finding a health plan?
President Trump, as well as Republicans in Congress, have stated their intentions to attempt to keep two popular requirements of the ACA in place:
- The need for insurance companies to offer coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.
- The ability for children to be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.
Form 1095 questions
5. What is this form?
Form 1095 is a little like Form W-2: The employer or insurer sends one copy to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and one copy to the employee. It describes whether the person obtained the minimum required level of health insurance under the ACA in 2016.
It also informs the IRS, and the employee, if the person was eligible for a premium tax credit in 2016.
6. If Obamacare is going to be repealed, do I still need this form?
Yes. The reason is because the ACA was in effect for all of 2016, and this form is for reporting information that reflects what happened in 2016.
7. What do I have to do with it?
In most cases, no action will be necessary. When filing taxes for 2016, individuals will be asked if they obtained minimum insurance coverage. This form will help individuals answer that question.
8. Do I have to wait to receive the form to file my taxes?
Again, in most cases, the answer is no. Only those who received insurance via an exchange or the “marketplace” will have to wait for their 1095 to file their taxes.
If a person received insurance through an employer, that person doesn’t have to wait for Form 1095 to file his or her taxes, assuming the person already knows whether or not they had minimum coverage throughout the year. In that case, the person can just keep the form for their records.
If a person’s unsure whether he or she had minimum coverage for the entire year, that person can wait for the form to file their taxes or ask their employer whether he or she had minimum coverage.
9. How will I receive the form(s)?
Individuals may receive their form(s) in one of three ways:
- hand delivery, or
- electronically (if they have consented to receive it electronically).