If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created extra anxiety foryour organization or your clients over the last seven years, you’renot alone. When regulations were first signed into law in March2010, they represented a significant change to the U.S. health caresystem not seen since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid.New provisions meant new requirements — namely the mandaterequiring employers to file employee health care data with the IRS.Meeting these reporting obligations placed greater pressure thanever on employers, with the threat of penalties for non-compliancelooming ahead.


On November 9, 2016, the nation woke to the results of thePresidential election and many employers immediately anticipated anACA shakeup. President Trump was clear in his stance and message:ACA repeal and replacement were top priority for the newadministration.


With any change in legislation, moving a gigantic bureaucracy isequivalent to steering a battleship: course corrections don’thappen quickly. And the ACA was no different. It was clear that atransformation would not happen overnight. For more than eightmonths, the discussion around ACA waged on, leaving employers onthe edge of their seats ; many hoping that filing employee healthcare data with the IRS would become null and void.


But when news broke that a pared-down ACA repeal bill failed topass the Senate, it signaled the continuation of the ACA as the lawof the land for the foreseeable future. While executive actionscontinue, employers must remain compliant with all ACA employeehealth coverage and annual notification and information reportingobligations. It’s business as usual.

3 facts about Trump's ACA executive order, foragents

Here’s a look at three key areas for employers to review toensure ACA compliance while heading into openenrollment and 2018 filing deadlines.


Is your organization considered an applicable largeemployer (ALE)?


Remember, an employer with a minimum of 50 full-time employees(including full-time equivalent employees) during the prior year isconsidered an applicable large employer and is required to offerhealth care coverage to full-time employees. If you’re anorganization with less than 50 full-time employees that relies onpart-time workers, pay close attention to this threshold. And ifyou need help differentiating between a full-time and full-timeequivalent employee, the IRS provides this great resource.


It’s highly likely that you’ll experience turnover during agiven year. That’s why it’s crucial that you keep accurateemployment records and have access to data on the time yourvariable-hour employees work. If you’re tracking this informationmanually, you’re taking a big risk. Hopefully, you’ve taken thenecessary steps to mitigate this risk by utilizing a time andattendance system; but if not, it’s critical that you seek asolution to eliminate this administrative and potentially expensivecompliance burden. And if your provider offers reportingcapabilities that help measure ACA eligibility tracking, you’llgain even more peace of mind.


Are your health benefit plans consideredaffordable?


One main provision of the ACA is that applicable large employersmust provide affordable health care coverage to their full-timeemployees. But what counts as affordable coverage?


Employers should measure affordability based on one of thefollowing three IRS safe harbor methods:

  • W-2: If the employee is charged no more than9.66 percent of current year wages per Box 1 of their W-2

  • Rate of Pay: If the employee is charged no morethan 9.66 percent of their monthly rate of pay at the start of thecoverage period

  • Federal Poverty Level: If the employee ischarged no more than 9.66 percent of the most recently publishedmainland FPL for a household of one

Are You confident in your ACA compliancepartner?


ACA compliance should be a top priority for your HR department,especially during open enrollment season and 2018 filing deadlines.If you dropped your ACA provider in anticipation of a repeal oraren’t confident in your provider’s ability to help you staycompliant, now’s the time to find a partner who has an establishedhistory of ACA success. Feeling the time crunch, but aren’t surewhere to turn? Here are some things you need to consider:

  • Delays, extensions and new requirements have caused confusionfor many employers. Because of the constant change, don’tunderestimate the importance of partnering with an expert to managethe regulations. Identify a provider that understands thecomplexities of the law and provides a dedicated team of ACAexperts to ensure data is correctly applied to required forms. Agood compliance partner is one that consolidates data needed forfiling, keeps abreast of changes in the law and the effect it hason clients, and actively guides clients through the implementationof ACA reporting and filing.

  • ACA compliance hinges on accurate employee data, so make sureyou understand your provider’s process for capturing and trackingthis information. Using disparate systems to capture and track datacould create errors and make reporting very time consuming.

  • Employee eligibility can change at the drop of a hat, and if youfail to offer coverage to an eligible employee, you risk penaltyfor failure to meet coverage requirements. Look for a provider withan ACA tool that tracks hours and closely monitors monthlyeligibility to determine which employees should be offeredbenefits.

The latest news surrounding the ACA should serve as a wake-upcall for any employer that put reporting requirements on the backburner. Reporting requirements are mandatory, and the longer youwait to act, the more risk you assume.

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