The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is trying to ease insurers’, employers’ and plan administrators’ fears that problems with getting enrollees’ Social Security numbers will lead to enormous fines.
The IRS says in a new batch of informal guidance, given in IRS Notice 2015-68, that it will expand a temporary relief program for health coverage providers that leave some individuals’ Social Security numbers out of minimum essential coverage (MEC) reporting forms for 2015.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires many people to have MEC or else pay a penalty.
Starting early next year, health insurers will have to send MEC reports to their coverage holders and the IRS for 2015.
Employers that provide MEC through self-insured plans will have to send MEC reports for 2015 to enrollees and the IRS.
In theory, PPACA could require insurers and employers that violate the MEC reporting rules, given in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 6055, to pay fines of up to $250 per inaccurate return, and up to $3 million per year.
See also: IRS struggles to combine PPACA reports
In the real world, the IRS has already said it will waive the penalties for 2015 if coverage providers show they have done what they could, in good faith, to comply with the reporting rules, including meeting requirements that the coverage providers include the Social Security numbers or other taxpayer identification numbers, of the people described in the reporting forms.