The Obama Administration on July 2 announced it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The delay is designed to meet two goals, said Mark Mazur, the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury in a blog post. “First, it will allow us to consider ways to simplify the new reporting requirements consistent with the law," Mazur said. "Second, it will provide time to adapt health coverage and reporting systems while employers are moving toward making health coverage affordable and accessible for their employees. Within the next week, we will publish formal guidance describing this transition.”

Yunus Burhani, senior architect at X by 2 Inc., a consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry told INN that health insurers will continue as planned. “Health insurers’ major focus is on health insurance exchanges, which is still going to be established on October 1. They are currently mainly focused on risk management readiness assessment (RMRA), which will provide additional dollars from exchange to insurers caring for sick populations. There are some technical and logistical challenges insurers have in achieving the goals for RMRA, but this delay would not relieve these challenges.”

Mark Colwell, manager of consumer marketing for GoHealthInsurance.com, an online portal designed to help consumers find health insurance coverage, echoed Burhani’s analysis. “Even though the law will allow employers another year before assessing fines for not providing health coverage, health insurers will likely continue as planned -- getting ready for the big change when open enrollment for individual health insurance starts October 1. But for employer-sponsored health plans, insurers will certainly have more time to think about how the group market might change. Insurers likely look at the delay as a good thing overall, giving everyone one less deadline to worry about this year.”

In his blog, Treasury official Mazur wrote that the Administration will publish proposed rules implementing provisions involving information reporting (under section 6055) by insurers, self-insuring employers, and other parties that provide health coverage and information reporting (under section 6056) by certain employers with respect to the health coverage offered to their full-time employees. “Once these rules have been issued, the Administration will work with employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to strongly encourage them to voluntarily implement this information reporting in 2014, in preparation for the full application of the provisions in 2015,” Mazur wrote. “Real-world testing of reporting systems in 2014 will contribute to a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015.”

Goldman Sachs analyst Matthew Borsch told the Associated Press that the employer mandate delay won't have a significant impact on either insurance coverage or health care spending. But should there be delays to more significant parts of the law, health insurers could lose out on new business.

Carrie Burns is Editor-in-Chief of Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia publication.

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