Form M-1 (2018); 10 Tips For Filing Form M-1 For Association Health Plans And Other MEWAs That Provide Medical Benefits
The DOL has released the 2018 Form M-1, which is used by certain entities to report compliance with group health plan mandates in Part 7 of ERISA. Form M-1 is filed—annually, and in connection with certain events—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 due to the exception for collectively bargained plans (“entities claiming exception” or ECEs) are required to file Form M-1 in certain circumstances. Annual filings are due by March 1 of the year following the calendar year being reported (with a 60-day extension available on request). Different deadlines apply for other types of filings. Form M-1 must be filed electronically through the Form M-1 Online Filing System.
While the 2018 Form M-1 has minimal changes, the instructions contain several new provisions, some of which reflect the final regulations on association health plans (AHPs) (see our Checkpoint article). The DOL notes in a news release that AHPs are MEWAs, and, as such, they must file M-1 annually and following certain events such as expansion into a new state. In addition, the DOL has issued a list of Form M-1 filing tips. Here are highlights:
Who Must File. Enhanced instructions describe what entities are required to file in different situations, with key information called out as “Important.” Filers are reminded in both the instructions and the separate filing tips that a MEWA that is an ERISA employee welfare benefit plan must also file Form 5500, using the same name, EIN, and other identifying information on both forms. In addition, the instructions now explain the special filing rules for group insurance arrangements.
Date and Type of Filing. Item 4 of Form M-1, which identifies the type of filing, now requires filers to enter the date of the event for a registration, origination, or special filing. The filing tips explain that MEWAs should check “annual” or “registration”; only ECEs will check “origination” or “special.” The instructions describing the events triggering registration, origination, or special filings now emphasize that “operating” for this purpose means “any activity including but not limited to marketing, soliciting, providing, or offering to provide benefits consisting of medical care.”
Additional Details. The instructions for item 13 (actuarial soundness) highlight the DOL’s power to issue a cease and desist order if it appears a MEWA “creates an immediate danger to the public safety or welfare.” The instructions for item 17 (information about states in which the MEWA operates) include a new note about completing this line for all applicable states, using the drop-down box available in the online filing system. And clarifications have been added to the instructions for item 21 regarding whether the MEWA is subject to Part 7 of ERISA.
Annually Adjusted Penalties. The instructions specify the current maximum penalty for Form M-1 filing failures ($1,558 per day), but remind filers to check for increases, as required annual adjustments take place after the Form M-1 has been published (see our Checkpoint article). [EBIA Comment: The “Penalties” portion of the instructions incorrectly reflects the previous maximum penalty amount.]
Self-Compliance Tool. The informational Form M-1 no longer includes the self-compliance tool, which helps filers assess their compliance with the various group health plan mandates addressed on Form M-1, but describes where to find the tool online.
Filing Tips. The filing tips note that insurance information must be provided for every state in which the MEWA operates, and that information such as the NAIC code must be accurate. One tip explains that only medical insurance must be reported—not, for example, dental insurance. Another tip reminds MEWAs that are also employee benefit plans to retain the Form M-1 filing confirmation number, as this will be needed for the Form 5500 filing. And the tips explain that more than one Form M-1 filing requirement may apply for a year—a registration filing and an annual filing. [EBIA Comment: The annual filing may not be required if the MEWA timely filed between October 1 and December 31 of the applicable year due to a registration event.]
EBIA Comment: The filing tips and additions to the instructions seem to indicate areas of focus for the DOL—perhaps anticipating an increase in Form M-1 filings due to the final AHP regulations. Those responsible for MEWAs should consult with their advisors and service providers to ensure proper filing. For more information, see EBIA’s ERISA Compliance manual at Sections XIX.D (“Is There an ERISA Plan at the MEWA Level or at the Participating Employer Level?”) and XIX.G (“Form M-1 Obligations for MEWAs and Participating Employers”), EBIA’s Self-Insured Health Plans manual at Section XXIX.D.1 (“Form M-1 Reporting by MEWAs Providing Health Benefits”), and EBIA’s Group Health Plan Mandates manual at Section XXIX.C (“DOL Form M-1 Reporting and Compliance Checklist”).
Contributing Editors: EBIA Staff.