cost maintenance period
(3) Minimum cost requirements (A) In general The requirements of this paragraph are met if each group health plan or arrangement under which applicable health benefits are provided, and each group-term life insurance plan under which applicable life insurance benefits are provided, provides that the applicable employer cost for each taxable year during the cost maintenance period shall not be less than the higher of the applicable employer costs for each of the 2 taxable years immediately preceding the taxable year of the qualified transfer or, in the case of a transfer which involves a plan maintained by an employer described in subsection (f)(2)(E)(i)(III), if the plan meets the requirements of subsection (f)(2)(D)(i)(II). (B) Applicable employer cost For purposes of this paragraph, the term “applicable employer cost” means, with respect to any taxable year, the amount determined by dividing— (i) the qualified current retiree liabilities of the employer for such taxable year determined— (I) separately with respect to applicable health benefits and applicable life insurance benefits, (II) without regard to any reduction under subsection (e)(1)(B), and (III) in the case of a taxable year in which there was no qualified transfer, in the same manner as if there had been such a transfer at the end of the taxable year, by (ii) the number of individuals to whom coverage was provided during such taxable year for the benefits with respect to which the determination under clause (i) is made. (C) Election to compute cost separately An employer may elect to have this paragraph applied separately for applicable health benefits with respect to individuals eligible for benefits under title XVIII of the Social Security Act at any time during the taxable year and with respect to individuals not so eligible, and separately for applicable life insurance benefits with respect to individuals age 65 or older at any time during the taxable year and with respect to individuals under age 65 during the taxable year. (D) Cost maintenance period For purposes of this paragraph, the term “cost maintenance period” means the period of 5 taxable years beginning with the taxable year in which the qualified transfer occurs. If a taxable year is in two or more overlapping cost maintenance periods, this paragraph shall be applied by taking into account the highest applicable employer cost required to be provided under subparagraph (A) for such taxable year. (E) Regulations (i) In general The Secretary shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to prevent an employer who significantly reduces retiree health coverage or retiree life insurance coverage, as the case may be, during the cost maintenance period from being treated as satisfying the minimum cost requirement of this subsection. (ii) Insignificant cost reductions for retiree health coverage permitted (I) In general An eligible employer shall not be treated as failing to meet the requirements of this paragraph for any taxable year if, in lieu of any reduction of retiree health coverage permitted under the regulations prescribed under clause (i), the employer reduces applicable employer cost by an amount not in excess of the reduction in costs which would have occurred if the employer had made the maximum permissible reduction in retiree health coverage under such regulations. In applying such regulations to any subsequent taxable year, any reduction in applicable employer cost under this clause shall be treated as if it were an equivalent reduction in retiree health coverage. (II) Eligible employer For purposes of subclause (I), an employer shall be treated as an eligible employer for any taxable year if, for the preceding taxable year, the qualified current retiree liabilities of the employer with respect to applicable health benefits were at least 5 percent of the gross receipts of the employer. For purposes of this subclause, the rules of paragraphs (2), (3)(B), and (3)(C) of section 448(c) shall apply in determining the amount of an employer’s gross receipts.