by Jessica Campbell | 5/26/16
A 2015 survey of employers across 36 different industries revealed that 35 percent of large employers planned to use a dedicated ACA compliance vendor to complete their Affordable Care Act information reporting requirements for the year 2015. Of course employers were to accomplish their ACA reporting requirements and file their 1094-C forms with the IRS by March 31 of this year, but due to the complex nature of the 1094-C and 1095-C forms, the inexperience of HR staff, and the multifaceted, heavy work required to comply with the ACA reporting requirements, the IRS extended the deadline for electronic filing to June 30.
Yet, despite the new deadline, employers continue to be stressed, frustrated, and unready to submit their ACA reporting forms to the IRS. Even those employers who did contract with an ACA reporting service or use a benefits administration solution are still among the masses who have not completed their 1094-C forms and are now struggling to find alternative ACA solutions.
The ACA forms require an intense amount of data that is usually retrieved from companies’ payroll vendors and benefits insurance carriers, and must be entered precisely using a convoluted matrix of indicator codes, FEINs, coverage amounts, and more. Not only is data procured from multiple vendors and systems, but it must also be broken down into monthly values, employee-counts, and aggregated group indicators. Dedicated ACA compliance vendors have difficulty obtaining the correct and accurate data from HR staff, and most benefits administration systems are not even capable of integrating the complex logic and data in order to populate the ACA forms.
Furthermore, the IRS mandates that every “ALE” (Applicable Large Employer) — that is an employer with 50 or more full-time employees — file one Authoritative Transmittal 1094-C form and include a 1095-C form for each employee. For employers with 50 employees this becomes an exhausting mission; however, it becomes almost unmanageable for extremely large employers with 1,000, 10,000, or greater than 100,000 employees.
Not only do employers report on the difficulty (and inconvenience) of adhering to the IRS’s strict reporting requirements and exhaustive paperwork, but they are even more concerned about the additional administrative costs for ACA compliance and filing with the IRS. Companies are finding that relying on HR and tax professionals is far too costly considering the extra time and man-hours required and most are turning to technology to “do” their IRS duties for them. The 2015 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA’s Impact Survey results uncovers what employers find to be the top two challenges of ACA: administration issues and cost issues.
Both of the top ACA difficulties employers face can be resolved by high-computing, ACA reporting and compliance technologies, which surged in adoption rates by large employers this year and is expected to increase in the next following years, especially when 2018 is estimated to be the most costly ACA reporting year.
What can ACA technology do?
There are many ACA reporting and outsourcing solutions; however, the vendors that configure technology to do the job are those that employers should focus on. Technology, as opposed to humans, is always precise, efficient, and can be configured to employer-specific data formatting. Plus, when employers are searching for a technological solution for their ACA reporting and compliance needs they must also be attentive to usability. Typically, employers will adopt an ACA technology to be utilized by HR staff, which may have employee benefits, payroll, and audit acumen, but not be tech-savvy; thus, it must be an easy-to-use solution that can be easily deployed.
ACA reporting and compliance technologies integrate with payroll vendors and employee record systems to retrieve employee benefits and payroll data, automatically populate 1095-C and 1094-C forms, and electronically file with the IRS. Plus, complete ACA technological outsourcing solutions will even perform the printing and mailing of the 1095-C forms directly to employees.
Given the critical benefits eligibility, affordability, and full-time employee figuring that factors into ACA reporting, employers value the intelligence and expertise of powerful ACA reporting and compliance technology.
Furthermore, when 52 percent of employers say they are very likely to provide health-care benefits in the next five years, finding long-term HR and employee benefits technology solutions is even more critical for those who wish to offer extensive benefits packages and improve employee communication while also minimize administrative and reporting costs.
What is the future of ACA reporting and compliance?
Just as employers have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to manage and maintain their customer data, large employers understand their need for an employee benefits administration system to manage and maintain their employees’ data, technology which is capable of not only ACA reporting and compliance, but functions to automate many other HR and benefits administrative tasks.
For instance, Web Benefits Design’s Total Access Exchange offers a customizable, corporate-branded employee enrollment website tailored to each client’s product offerings, employee classifications, and carriers. Along with the full suite of ACA reporting and compliance tools available, the employee benefits administration system is capable of customizing billing and reports, sending bulk communications, managing employee eligibility, managing dependent and beneficiary documentation, and performing COBRA administration.
What today’s smart employers seek is an ACA reporting and compliance solution that is robust and flexible enough to support their benefits and administrative needs now and in the future, not just a one-time, turn-key ACA tracking application. Given the dynamics of employee-turnover, ACA compliance, and even the market, employers seek technologies that are capable of automating multiple employee benefits administrative tasks, include a complete ACA compliance and reporting tool, are hard-coded with the expertise of benefit advisors, as well as include a support staff — just a phone call away.
Full-service employee benefits administration technology and outsourcing is the future of the employee benefits and insurance industries, and result in less-stressful, less-costly, and more efficient ACA compliance and reporting for employers and more benefits options for employees.
Jessica Lynn Campbell is Marketing Executive and Content Writer for Web Benefits Design. She has a Master’s in English-Technical Communication, a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and is currently obtaining a PH.D in Texts and Technology. Jessica is an expert and experienced technical communicator, author, and multi-media manager having been published on multiple media platforms including print and online. She is skilled in APA, MLA, Chicago, and Bluebook citation styles. Jessica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Lynn Campbell is marketing executive and technical writer for Web Benefits Design.