Hamilton Headlines
January 25, 2016


IRS Expands Tax Relief for Identity Protection Services

Last August, the IRS announced that the value of credit monitoring and other identity protection services provided to data breach victims by the organization that experienced the breach (including employers and their service providers) is neither taxable nor reportable on information returns such as Forms W-2 or 1099-MISC. On December 30, the IRS announced it would extend the same tax treatment to services provided to employees or other individuals where there has been no data breach. Given growing data security concerns and expanded tax relief, employers may wish to consider whether to offer identity protection services as part of their overall benefits and security strategies.


As data breaches have become more widespread, companies have looked for ways to provide assistance to their customers and employees whose personal information may have been compromised. Among other things, companies have provided individuals who might be impacted with credit monitoring and other identity protection services to mitigate the risk of identity theft.
Know the Difference Between ACA Compliance and HSA Compatibility
To mitigate the effects of the impending Cadillac tax, many employers are shifting to high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts. However, advisers and their employer clients must make certain a plan is both HSA compatible and compliant with the Affordable Care Act - something that's not necessarily true.

"Don't assume that if it's compliant with one law that it's compliant with another," says Karen McLeese, vice president of employee benefit regulatory affairs at CBIZ. One difference between being ACA compliant and HSA compatible is the out-of-pocket limits. For HSAs, the limits are $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families for 2016. The ACA limits are $6,850 for single plans and $13,700 for family plans.
Did You Know? 

--February is American Heart Month

--Drugmakers didn't let up on price increases with the start of a new year, demonstrating the industry's pricing power in the face of mounting criticisms of prescription costs in the U.S. Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Jan 1 raised the price of its new drug Hetlioz, which treats a sleep disorder in blind people, by 10%, to $148,000 a year. Since New Year's Day, Pfizer has raised list prices an average of 10.6% for more than 60 branded products with annual U.S. sales of at least $10 million, according to Deutsche Bank. Prices for eight of the products went up at least 20%.

--In Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and more than a dozen other markets, individuals seeking coverage from the insurance exchanges can choose health plans providing free doctor visits, an insurance benefit once considered unthinkable. The improvements are rolling out in a limited number of plans following reports that high copays and deductibles have discouraged many Americans who signed up for private coverage the past two years from using their new insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

--Aetna's Chief Executive Mark Bertolini said that he still expects the company's $37 billion acquisition of rival Humana to close this year. The deal is being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has been seeking documents about Aetna's and Humana's business as it assesses how the deal, and a pending $47 billion combination of Anthem and Cigna Corp, could affect consumers. 
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Getting Ready for Tax Season

As we settle in to the New Year, many Americans are already keeping an eye on their mailbox for tax forms. January means tax season is just around the corner. As you begin to make a plan for gathering the information you need to file your taxes, it's important to remember that, just like last year, information about your health coverage is now a part of the tax filing process.

Having health insurance when you can afford it is the law. If you had coverage in 2015 - either through the Health Insurance Marketplace or another source like your employer, Medicare or Medicaid - you'll need to indicate that when you file your tax return. If you could have afforded health insurance, but you chose not to enroll in coverage for 2015, you may be required to  pay a fee  when you file your federal income tax return.

To help you get a head start on planning for tax season, here's what people with different health coverage situations need to know:

What you should know if you have Marketplace coverage. If you enrolled in a health plan through HealthCare.gov or your state's Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015, you'll soon receive an important tax document in the mail, called a Form 1095-A. Your 1095-A includes important information you need in order to complete your 2015 Federal income tax return. You should wait to file your income tax return until you receive this document in the mail. It should arrive by early February. When it arrives, keep it with your other tax records, like the W-2 you get from your employer.
Task Force: Mammograms An Option at 40, Do More Good at 50  

Mammograms do the most good later in life, a government task force has declared in recommending that women get one every other year starting at age 50. It said 40-somethings should make their own choice after weighing the pros and cons.

When to start routine mammograms and how frequently to get them has long been controversial. The latest guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, made public Monday, stick with its advice that women should have one every two years between ages 50 and 74. But they also make clear that it's an option for younger women even though they're less likely to benefit.

Some health groups urge mammograms every year starting at 40 - although last year the American Cancer Society upped its starting age to 45.

There is some common ground emerging, that mammography advice shouldn't always be one-size-fits all. "Age 50 isn't magic," said task force past chairman Dr. Michael LeFevre of the University of Missouri.

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Employers Advised to Prepare for Questions on ACA Reporting Forms

As employers prepare to distribute Forms 1095 to employees by the newly extended IRS deadline of March 31, they should brace for increased questions from employees about the new forms.

In  Notice 2016-4, issued by the IRS on Dec. 28, the agency extended the deadlines for both providing individuals with the reporting forms required as part of the Affordable Care Act and for filing them with the IRS, although it also said "employers and other coverage providers are encouraged to furnish statements and file the information returns as soon as they are ready."

In the year-end notice, "the IRS indicated to employers that there's going to be no more extensions," says Laura Kerekes, chief knowledge officer with ThinkHR Corporation. "This is already more generous than what the initial filing extension was. The feeling is that you better get these done and into the government."
  -- ACA Reinsurance Fee
In two separate payments for the 2015 benefit year, with the first remittance due by January 15, 2016 reflecting $33.00 per covered life, and the second remittance due by November 15, 2016 reflecting $11.00 per covered life. 
-- Marketplace/Exchange Open Enrollment starts on November 1, 2015 and ends on January 31, 2016.

-- ACA Reporting - Delay
Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to be filed with the IRS by May 31, 2016 (instead of February 29, 2016) or June 30, 2016 (instead of March 31, 2016), if filing electronically.

Forms 1095-C are due to employees by March 31, 2016 (instead of February 1, 2016).

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Please note that Hamilton Insurance does not provide legal advice, and this does not constitute advice of any kind for any 
particular situation. Instead, this is intended as non-comprehensive general information serving as a starting point for further 
discussion. Please contact your tax and/or legal advisors for information about how these issues affect you.  
About Us
H amilton Insurance , a top ranked independent broker in the Washington DC/Metropolitan Area and the nation, has over 35 years of experience in providing insurance brokerage, risk management and employee benefit solutions. It represents a full suite of commercial, health & welfare, and personal insurance solutions, supported by risk compliance and group benefit administrative services. 

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