Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
New guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue requires Massachusetts employers with six or more employees to file an annual health insurance responsibility disclosure (HIRD) form. The form became available on November 1, and must be submitted by November 30 of this year and each year subsequent.
On November 3, 2017, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a supplemental appropriations bill that requires employers to file a “healthcare coverage” form. The law states that “the form shall indicate whether the employer has offered to pay or arrange for the purpose of health care insurance and information about such health care insurance such as the premium cost, benefits offered, cost sharing details, eligibility criteria and other information deemed necessary by the division.”1 The purpose of the newly enacted HIRD form requirement is to identify MassHealth members with qualifying Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI) who may qualify for the MassHealth Premium Assistance Program. The MassHealth Premium Assistance Program is a program for MassHealth members who have access to other sources of health insurance, including through his or her employer. The program provides assistance in paying for insurance premiums for these qualifying members.
The 2017 appropriations bill stated only that the HIRD form requirement would begin in 2018, with no further information for employers on when or how this information would be collected. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has now clarified exactly who must file these forms, when the HIRD form must be submitted, and how to go about complying with the requirements.
The Department of Revenue guidance explains that any employer that currently has or has had six or more employees in any month within the 12 months preceding the November 30th filing deadline must complete a HIRD form. An individual is counted toward the six-employee threshold if the employer included the individual on the quarterly wage report to the Department of Unemployment Assistance at any point during the preceding 12 months. Every Massachusetts employer with six or more employees, even those who do not offer health insurance, must complete and submit the HIRD form annually. While a payroll company can file a HIRD form on behalf of an employer, the employer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy and timely filing of the form.
To access and file a HIRD form, employers or payroll companies need to log in to the Department of Revenue’s MassTaxConnect web portal. Employers will be required to disclose benefit and premium information about all the health insurance plans offered, as well as employer policies in place that impact employees' access to insurance. Examples of such policies include the minimum probationary period or hours worked per week to qualify for health insurance, or employment-based categories that determine what benefits are available to certain employees. The Department of Revenue has indicated in the guidance that an employer’s human resources or benefits department should have access to all of the information required to complete the HIRD form.
If the HIRD requirement sounds familiar, it is because it is quite similar to a previous Massachusetts health insurance disclosure requirement. Back in 2006, the Massachusetts health reform law required that both employers and employees file separate forms with information about insurance offered by the company, and the employees’ participation. With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the Massachusetts disclosure requirements became redundant and the form was no longer required. Now the HIRD requirement is back, and employers must file in a timely manner in order to avoid penalties.
The HIRD form requirement places an active responsibility on employers to log in to the MassTaxConnect portal and provide all requested health insurance information. Employers must complete the HIRD form by November 30, 2018, and annually by November 30th going forward.
1 2017 Acts c. 110 §12.