April 23, 2014

IRS Issues Revised Guidance on W-2 Reporting Requirements for Employer-Sponsored Health Plan Coverage

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued revised guidance, Notice 2011-28, regarding the requirement under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that employers report to employees the cost of their employer-sponsored group health plan coverage on Forms W-2.  This requirement applies to calendar year 2012 W-2s, which employees will receive from their employer in 2013.

The guidance provided assistance on calculating aggregate reportable cost.  Aggregate cost may be calculated in accordance with one of several methods including the “COBRA applicable premium” method, the “premium charged” method (for fully-insured coverage), or a “modified COBRA premium” method.

In addition to medical coverage, employers must include in the cost of employer-sponsored group health plan coverage, coverage under an Employee Assistance Program, wellness program coverage, on-site medical clinic coverage (but only aggregate reportable cost to the extent that the coverage is provided under a group health plan and the employer charges a premium for such coverage to beneficiaries of federal continuation coverage [e.g., COBRA]), Health Flexible Spending Account coverage (FSA), but only where the employer itself contributes to the FSA or otherwise provides flex credits through a Internal Revenue Code Section 125 cafeteria plan, and coverage under a dental plan or vision plan if such plans are not excepted from the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Employers do not need to include in the cost of employer-sponsored group coverage the cost of coverage under a dental plan or vision plan if such plans are excepted from HIPAA, amounts contributed to an Archer medical savings account (MSA) or a Health Savings Account, amounts of any salary reduction election to an FSA, the cost of coverage under a multiemployer plan, cost of coverage under a Health Reimbursement Arrangement not included in aggregate reportable income, and the cost of coverage provided under a self-insured group health plan that is not subject to federal continuation coverage requirements (i.e., a church plan).

© 2014 McDermott Will & Emery

About the Author


Amy Gordon is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s Chicago office.  She focuses her practice on the areas of welfare benefits, including self-funded and insured health plans. She assists clients in designing and maintaining compliant flexible benefit, life, medical, dental, pharmacy, EAP, educational assistance, disability, supplemental health, severance, Health Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts, and other types of welfare plans.  She counsels clients with respect to HIPAA, ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code...


About the Author


Susan M. Nash is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s Chicago office.  Susan focuses her practice primarily in the area of health and welfare benefit plans, including compliance with COBRA, HIPAA, ERISA, the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Code, and other federal laws affecting group health plans.


Ashley McCarthy is an associate in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s New York office.  She focuses her practice on employee benefits matters related to pension plans, 401(k) plans, executive compensation arrangements and welfare plans.

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