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posted on Monday, January 25, 2016
By Teresa C. Hopkins
Published Jan. 25, 2016
More than 211,000 South Carolinians have signed up for health insurance so far during this enrollment period, which ends Sunday, according to Kevin Counihan, director and CEO of The Health Insurance Marketplace in Washington, D.C. He said 90% of South Carolinians are qualifying for tax credits.
Counihan is traveling across the country to get feedback from health care brokers and those who help sign people up to the exchange. His most recent visit was to New Horizon Family Health Services in Greenville. He said he has learned three things from his visits.
"First, what we are hearing is the system is working well," he said. "We had issues two years ago, and the issue of if the system is working has been asked and answered."
Second, he mentioned new tools to help people decide on coverage that, for example, determine whether their doctor is in the network, whether their maintenance medication is covered and whether certain hospitals are covered. He said, "those were all introduced for the first time this year, and those are working well. People like those tools and they're using them."
The third thing Counihan has learned during his visits is that the increase in the penalty for not signing up has become a motivating factor for people to enroll.
"The penalty, which has crept up a little bit into 2016, now it is $695 per person or up to 2.5% of household income; that's having a motivating effect in terms of people enrolling. That's been interesting. We weren't sure how that was going to play out, but it turns out that that is a motivator," he said.
Counihan said signup during this enrollment period has gone smoothly overall, with no major glitches.
"We're expecting a big surge at the end of the month because of the upcoming deadline," he said. Coverage for enrollees meeting the Jan. 31 deadline begins March 1.
Counihan said businesses don't have a deadline with the Health Insurance Marketplace. They do, however, have deadlines by which to report 2015 information to the IRS and to provide employees with the appropriate IRS forms, according to Pam Evette, president and CEO of Quality Business Solutions in Travelers Rest.
"The IRS recently extended the deadlines for reporting 2015 information under the Affordable Care Act. Employers now have until March 31, previously Feb. 1, to provide employees with their Form 1095-C or Form 1095-B," Evette said.
Also, according to Evette, the deadlines for employers to report offers of health coverage to the IRS - forms 1094-B, 1094-C, 1095-B and 1095-C - have been extended by three months. The deadline for paper filing, available only to employers submitting fewer than 250 1095-Cs, is now May 31. The deadline for electronic filing, available to all employers, is now June 30. The deadline extensions apply only to this year, she said.
"If you are an employer who must be in compliance with ACA in 2015 and beyond, it's important that not only you, but also your employees are aware of the changing regulations and requirements year over year," Evette said. "It is crucial for business leaders to educate employees on what they are required to do and when and how to complete these requirements in the easiest and most efficient manner."
Evette said the IRS website on the Affordable Care Act is a good resource for anyone looking for information.