It’s tax season, which means many employers are struggling as they work to show compliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That means that this tax season, brokers have more opportunities than ever to guide their clients on the moving target that the PPACA offers, writes Alan Goforth for BenefitsPro.com. “Compliance can be daunting for a large business, let alone a small or mid-sized one.
“However, a dependable broker can be a big help,” Goforth writes. “Conscientious brokers are doing their homework to be able to assist their clients.” Some of the explicit challenges: understanding which employees are eligible to receive employer offers of health insurance, especially in the case of variable-hour employees. Smaller employers may be struggling with the fact that, by law, they’re no longer allowed to reimburse clients for health insurance.
Your clients may also be struggling to collect the data they need to show compliance. Brokers should encourage them to keep records that will assist them should they be audited. Brokers can also encourage HR to work closely with other departments in order to show compliance.
“A poll of more than 800 senior HR and benefits executives found that a majority both mid-sized and larger organizations are struggling with at least three key ACA compliance requirements: exchange notice management, annual health care reporting and penalty management,” writes Richard Stolz for Employee Benefit Adviser.
Part of the challenge: HR departments are now expected to produce reports for the IRS that require the detailed data previously generated by other departments, including payroll and finance. That challenge could be alleviated with better HR systems that will collect needed data, Stolz writes. “For example, determinations of employee eligibility for health benefits, or combining employee hours worked for full-time equivalent calculation purposes, requires integration of absence management, FMLA, jury duty and military leave personnel information, among other data elements,” he writes.
Brokers can also help clients understand a new set of what the IRS calls employer mandate penalty “patches,” writes Allison Bell for LifeHealthPro.com. “The patches… could help employers that have been using employer payment plans to pay for employees’ health coverage,” Bell writes. “The patches could also help S-Corporations that are paying for coverage for 2 percent shareholder-employees, and a related interpretation could help employers that are increasing workers’ pay to help them pay for individual health coverage.”
And while tax season this year is a crunch for many, it also helps those whose previously didn’t understand the gravity of PPACA reporting requirements and commit to continued preparation. “Although April 15 is on everyone’s mind, April 16 also is an important date,” Goforth writes. “That’s because the best time to plan for next year is when this year is still fresh in people’s minds. A timely meeting between an HR staff and insurance brokers, tax attorneys and other professionals can pay dividends.”