Conquer the Affordable Care Act with Technology

Friday, October 2, 2015
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What's changing in 2016? Small-to-midsize businesses are in the crosshairs.

The Affordable Care Act is getting increased attention from executives who want to ensure their organizations are in compliance. If you're like most small-to-midsize businesses and don't have high-priced accountants, lawyers and consultants on call, it can be tough to navigate it by yourself.

While 2015 definitely changed the healthcare landscape for many organizations and their employees, new rules are coming into effect at the beginning of next year that every employer should take notice of.

Starting in 2016, you can expect several changes. For example:

* Companies with 100 or more full-time employees will have to offer coverage to 95 percent of eligible full-time employees.

* Companies with 50 or more full-time employees will have to start offering coverage to their full-time employees.

* All employers should continue collecting information to determine compliance, even if they are under the 50-full-time-employee threshold.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 28 percent more companies with 50 to 99 employees than there are companies with 100 or more employees in the United States. That means more organizations are trying to understand these rules than ever before and time is running out. And those small-to-medium-size businesses, in particular, are looking for solutions to help them comprehensively grapple with these new regulations.

What Problems Are Organizations Facing?

Companies are facing a multitude of issues when grappling with the ACA. Obviously, one of the pain points is an increase in costs, both healthcare- and compliance-related. There's difficulty understanding the nuances of the law as well as complications when calculating taxes and possible penalties.

HR technology should be helping companies, but too often, it's leaving organizations behind. The inability to do relatively simple tasks is alarming. For instance, many of the technology providers that service small-to-midsize organizations have difficulty defining full-time employees, especially for retail and hospitality organizations that don't have set schedules for their workforces.

Other times, they have difficulty getting the right information for reporting purposes, forcing HR, payroll and office administrators to use paper-based or manual reporting to make sense of it all. Using disparate time-and-attendance, payroll, benefits and HR systems to determine eligibility and status means organizations have to pull information from multiple systems or deal with information that may be out of sync or incorrect.

The technology that makes up the backbone of your workforce should empower you to do your job and be the best. When it comes to the ACA, that means keeping your company in compliance with the law, and doing it as efficiently and effectively as possible. And when you need help, you also need a provider you can count on to be there -- because you can't do it alone.

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The Solution: A Single, Unified HR, Payroll, Time and Benefits Platform

Companies shouldn't have to fight their way through technology roadblocks to comply with changing legal issues related to the ACA. Having to run manual, paper-based reports and manage it all through disparate, disconnected systems only adds to the headache.

When organizations are looking for HR and payroll solutions that will help them with compliance issues and ACA reporting, they should consider the following issues:

Is the technology a single platform? It's important to understand whether a solution is a single, unified solution with a single database or a hodgepodge of partially integrated systems. With the latter, you could encounter issues with syncing among multiple systems.

Does it encompass the entire compliance chain? ACA covers a lot more than just benefits. HR, payroll and time-and-attendance all affect important questions of eligibility and compliance.

Does the provider understand the ACA? ACA is a complicated law that requires expertise to make sure you can get the right information reported the right way. Make sure your provider has compliance expertise.

Can they scale and grow with you? Many small businesses grow quickly and technology can slow them down. Can your provider grow with you, or will you have to make a painful transition later on?

Is it easy to use? An easy-to-use interface with a single login for employees and employers is a necessity in this day and age. It should be both intuitive and innovative enough to handle your biggest workforce challenges.

Technology should help you conquer it all, so look for solutions that will empower you to do the best job for your organization.

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