MORE TIME TO FILE HEALTH INSURANCE FORMS
The IRS has extended until March 2 the deadline for employers and insurers to provide 2017 health insurance information forms to employees. The forms, which have the numbers 1095-B and 1095-C, detail the coverage provided to each employee during the year. The forms were originally due to be in employees' hands by Jan. 31.
Individual taxpayers can use the information on the forms to determine whether they qualify for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.
While employers and insurers have more time to send the forms to employees, the due dates for getting the forms to the IRS have not changed. If the forms are being sent on paper, they are due Feb. 28, and if they're being filed electronically, the due date is April 2.
You can find more information on the IRS website, www.irs.gov.
ASSOCIATION HEALTH PLANS
Small business advocates are split over the Trump administration's plan to allow what are called association health plans, or group insurance plans that would permit small companies to buy insurance in states where they're not located. The plan, a proposed regulation released last week by the Labor Department, would make it easier for groups, or associations, to sponsor health plans that don't meet all the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Under current law, large companies are generally exempt from state insurance regulations, allowing them to provide the same insurance coverage to all their employees, but small businesses are limited to policies that meet the standards of their home states. The Labor Department says the proposal could benefit up to 11 million people who are self-employed or work for small businesses but don't have employer coverage. The regulation could give businesses more options.
The administration's proposal would "fix current restrictions and barriers that prevent small businesses and entrepreneurs from using their market power and membership in associations to negotiate and access affordable health coverage," said Karen Kerrigan, CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Critics of the proposal, including some small business advocates as well as insurance industry groups, said that while it would benefit some companies, others could find their insurance costs rising sharply.
The proposal would "create parallel insurance markets for small businesses, leading to major spikes in premiums for small firms that remain in the small-group market," said Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer. He also said association plans would offer less protection to some employees if a multistate policy would reduce protection against rate increases and poor coverage that some states offer consumers.
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed regulation, which can found on the Federal Register website at http://bit.ly/2CKkGs9 .
GETTING BIGGER CONTRACTS AND FEES
Many small business owners are willing to take lower fees and smaller contracts when they're first starting out, and want to make the leap to the customers with deeper pockets. SCORE, which offers free counseling to small companies, is sponsoring an online seminar on how to get high-paying clients. It will be held Thursday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can learn more and register at http://bit.ly/2lGbKIS .
Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com/search/joyce%20rosenberg