One sure theme weaving itself through the intricacies of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: employers need to have a solid system for keeping track of the employee data they’re expected to report. This is an opportunity for brokers to prove their worth as they make sure their clients have systems in place that can accurately track and organize information.
“With the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility reporting requirements for 2015 quickly approaching, benefit advisers should already be working with employer clients to implement benefit administration systems to ensure compliance with the law,” writes Melissa A. Winn for Employee Benefit Adviser’s Health Insurance Exchange section. Such tracking systems should help employers make sure eligible employees have been offered health care coverage, and that they’re meeting the law’s standard for minimum essential coverage.
“Employers will also be required to track employee eligibility for health care coverage, including number of hours worked,” Winn writes. This information is so complex, it can’t be tracked manually, she writes, especially because the information will be used to generate reporting forms for the IRS to show compliance. “Advisers should be working with employers to make sure their current or a new benefit administration system can track variable hours and hours worked by an employee, a component that will be imperative for ACA compliant reporting,” Winn writes. “An efficient administration system should also be able to track and verify an employer’s notice to each employee about the availability of the public marketplaces, another requirement of the ACA.”
A bonus, writes Brian M. Kalish for Employee Benefits Adviser, is that such systems can help brokers assist clients in tracking the ages of qualifying dependents and life changes their employees are dealing with, such as a marriage or divorce. This makes good business sense for brokers, as well. Such support and guidance can help brokers prove their value at a time of possible disruption, Kalish writes.
The PPACA’s concept of rate transparency, in many cases, allows anyone to view the plans insurers sell and how much they cost, instead of going through a broker. However, brokers who help their clients wrangle the data they’ll need to comply with the law provide much more than quotes. For example, Paylocity’s Comprehensive Toolkit allows brokers to offer their clients an all-inclusive set of dashboards and reports to help them comply with PPACA. It can help employers make sense of their data and analyze factors like eligibility and affordability, as well as support in the form of training and FAQ videos. The toolkit eases communication and collaboration among brokers and employers, and allows everyone involved to make strategic decisions based on employers’ data.
Tools like this will allow brokers to extend their solid customer service to allow for data collection and careful strategy. “When you look at what is required, there is no way employers can track this information manually anymore,” Winn writes. “Having a benefit administration system to help employers do this is key.”