Massachusetts recently published guidance regarding its new Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (HIRD) annual filing, which is due for the first time on November 30, 2018 and then annually thereafter. This new HIRD form replaces one that was suspended in 2014 because it became unnecessary due to the ACA’s reporting requirements.

The new HIRD requirement consists of a relatively simple employer filing requirement (i.e., employees are no longer required to complete a form) and is intended to help Massachusetts determine who might be eligible for premium assistance under the state’s MassHealth Program. The filing requirement applies to every employer that has (or had) six or more Massachusetts-based employees during any month in the 12 months prior to November 30 of the filing year. An individual is considered an employee for this purpose if the employer including the individual in the quarterly wage report filed with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance. Similar to the ACA reporting forms, HIRD forms are filed on an EIN-by-EIN basis. This means that a separate form must be filed for each company with its own EIN.

The HIRD disclosure form requests information regarding health plan eligibility requirements (such as cumulative service requirements or waiting periods), health plan design, and costs associated with maintaining the health plan. Although employers can hire their current payroll providers, insurance providers, or consultants to complete these forms, ultimate responsibility for completing the forms is on the employers. For employers with a unionized workforce receiving coverage through a union plan (which likely is intended to include a multiemployer plan), it appears that the HIRD firm simply requires identification of the union. Additionally, Massachusetts has provided some guidance related to professional employer organizations (PEOs), which often file payroll reports with Massachusetts on behalf of their client employers. Though PEOs may assist their client employers, the guidance makes clear that the client employers themselves are ultimately responsible for completing the HIRD forms.

Most payroll providers operating in Massachusetts already file reports through Massachusetts’ MassTaxConnect system, so employers with Massachusetts-based employees should consider contacting their provider to determine what assistance is available. To the extent that employers need assistance completing the forms, employers should consider contacting benefits consultants or legal counsel.