The administrator of a multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA) must file a Form M-1 with the Department of Labor (DOL) for every calendar year, or portion thereof, that the MEWA offers or provides medical benefits to the employees of two or more employers (including one or more self-employed individuals). The annual M-1 filing for 2018 is due no later than March 1, 2019 (unless an extension is requested).
Briefly, a MEWA is an arrangement that offers health and other benefits to the employees of two or more different employers (including one or more self-employed individuals).
A MEWA does not include a plan or other arrangement that is established and maintained:
A plan that provides coverage to two or more trades or businesses (whether incorporated or not) within the same controlled group is considered a single employer, and not a MEWA. A determination of whether or not two employers are within the same controlled group is based on the rules contained in Internal Revenue Code § 414(c) and the applicable regulations (26 CFR § 1.414(c)-2). However, the definition of common control shall not be based on an interest of less than 25%.
Ownership interests that do not satisfy these requirements will not be viewed collectively as a single-employer plan, and thus will likely be considered a MEWA. Employers should seek the advice of legal counsel to determine whether or not their particular arrangement meets the controlled group requirements in order to avoid MEWA issues.
The administrator of a MEWA that provides benefits for medical care to the employees of two or more employers (including self-employed individuals) must file the Form M-1 with the DOL.
There are a number of exceptions to the Form M-1 requirements. In particular, a MEWA that provides coverage consisting solely of excepted benefits (most standalone dental and vision benefits are considered excepted benefits) is not required to file a Form M-1. However, if the MEWA provides coverage that consists both of excepted benefits and other benefits for medical care that are not excepted benefits, the administrator must still file the M-1.
Also, a Form M-1 is not required when:
The Form M-1 must be filed electronically. The system may be accessed at http://www.askebsa.dol.gov/mewa/. Paper filings are no longer permitted.
The Form M-1 must be filed no later than March 1 following any calendar year for which a filing is required.
However, administrators may request an automatic 60-day extension. To request an extension, the administrator must:
When filing the completed Form M-1, a PDF copy of this request for extension must be attached to the completed Form M-1 when filed.
In addition to the annual filing requirement, administrators of both plan and non-plan MEWAs must file the Form M-1 within a certain time upon the following five registration events:
Possibly. MEWAs that are employee benefit welfare plans (a plan MEWA) are required to file a Form 5500 regardless of size. Part III of the Form 5500 (Form M-1 Compliance Information) requests information regarding M-1 compliance, and requests the Form M-1 Receipt Confirmation Code from the last-filed M-1.
The DOL may assess a civil penalty for failure to file a Form M-1, failure to file a completed Form M-1 and for late filings. In the event of no filing, an incomplete filing or a late filing, a penalty of up to $1,597 a day for each day that the administrator fails to comply with the requirement may apply. In addition, changes under health care reform also may impose criminal penalties on any person who knowingly submits false statements or false representations of fact in filing reports required under the rule (including Form M-1).
There is no voluntary compliance program available for delinquent Forms M-1.
For questions on completing the Form M-1, contact the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s (EBSA’s) Form M-1 help desk at (202) 693-8360.
For inquiries regarding electronic filing capability, contact the EBSA computer help desk at (202) 693-8600.
For inquiries regarding the Form M-1 filing requirement, contact the Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-8335.
For the Form M-1 Online Filing System (and additional information), visit http://www.askebsa.dol.gov/mewa/.
MEWAs: Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): A Guide to Federal and State Regulation (revised August 2013) https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/publications/mewa-under-erisa-a-guide-to-federal-and-state-regulation.pdf.
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