You may or may not support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But from a human resources management perspective, the legislation's requirement that employers report the cost of health care coverage on employees' W-2 forms will provide both employers and employees with an exceptional benefits education and communication tool.

The PPACA will require most organizations that provide employer-sponsored health care coverage to report the aggregate cost on the W-2 forms they issue to employees. This reporting requirement was originally effective for the 2011 tax year, but in October 2010, the IRS issued Notice 2010-69, which made 2011 reporting optional and postponed mandatory compliance to 2012. Therefore, W-2s issued in January 2013 must include this information.

First, this PPACA reporting requirement will help employers get more recognition for one of their largest investments. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employer-sponsored benefits typically constitute 30 to 40 percent of an employee's total compensation package. Nevertheless, according to a study conducted by research and consulting firm LIMRA, most employees significantly underestimate the costs of these benefits. 

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