Mind your Form M-1, whether you’re a MEWA or not

Form M-1 is used to report compliance with group health plan mandates under Part 7 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, as well as under provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The form must be filed by multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) providing medical benefits other than exclusively excepted benefits — regardless of whether the MEWA is a group health plan.

In addition, many entities claiming not to be MEWAs because of the exception for collectively bargained plans are still required to file Form M-1 for the first three years after the entity last “originated” or in certain other special circumstances. Annual Form M-1 filings are due March 1 of the year following the calendar year being reported. But if you missed this deadline, a 60-day extension is available on request. Different deadlines also apply for origination filings.

No substantive changes

The Department of Labor (DOL) released the 2015 version of Form M-1 earlier this year. Essentially, no substantive changes have been made to this year’s form since the 2014 version. The 2015 instructions, however, do include two additional circumstances requiring an origination or special filing:

  1. The number of employees receiving medical coverage through the MEWA (since the previous year) increases by at least 50%
  2. The MEWA experiences a material change (as described in the instructions)

These are not new requirements — they were included in the instructions for the 2012 Form M-1 and may have been inadvertently dropped from the 2013 and 2014 instructions.

No notable changes have been made to the self-compliance tool, which helps Form M-1 filers assess their compliance with a variety of group health plan mandates — including certain Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mental health parity and ACA requirements. The self-compliance tool is a useful resource for all group health plans — even those not required to file Form M-1. It’s available on the DOL’s Health Benefits Laws Self Compliance Tools webpage (http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthlawschecksheets.html).

E-file only

Although there were no significant changes to Form M-1 this year, administrators of MEWAs and other applicable plans should review the instructions carefully to ensure familiarity with all applicable requirements. Major changes were made just a few years ago. Also, remember that the version of Form M-1 on the DOL website is only informational — you must file Form M-1 electronically through the Form M-1 Online Filing System.

© 2016

Published in Healthcare

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