Help for employers with ACA compliance 

Cost of independent compliance verification can be less than employers realize.

Compliance assurance programs can incorporate cost-saving measured to reduce overall outlay for employee health benefits.

by Tony Novak, CPA, MBA, MT    @tonynovak    November 4, 2014

If your business has 50 or more employees, then planning for compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will soon become a significant and ongoing financial management priority. Penalties for non-compliance are steep. Many small and mid-sized firms may find that they are currently deficient in one or more areas of required provisions of ACA. The easiest way to ensure compliance is through an independent outside provider and the cost may be much less than most employers realize. In fact, there may even be opportunities for cost savings.

Consider these questions to help with planning for compliance:

1) What type(s) of coverage is(are) offered? Is employee choice offered? If more than one plan is offered, which plan is the benchmark plan for compliance testing purposes?

2) What is your test period for determination of full time equivalent employees? Who is doing the testing? Do you have written records of the test results?

3) Do you offer dependent coverage? How are costs and employer contributions, if any, determined?

4) Do you have a good estimate of the cost of coverage for next year?

5) Who is doing the employee eligibility notices? Do you have written records of the offers? Has a non-discrimination test been performed?

6) Who is checking the employee affordability calculation? What method is used? Do you have written records of the test result?

7) Who is performing the minimum essential coverage testing? Do you have written certification?

8) How are you performing a minimum value testing? Do you have a written certification?

9) What cost management strategies have you considered?

10) How are you incorporating health plan cost controls to offset the cost of ACA compliance?

In most small and mid-sized firms help with ACA compliance is best handled through an out-sourced contract with an accountant or firm that specializes in this area of practice. This separation of compliance oversight provides an additional layer of assurance. The cost of an external compliance review program – perhaps about $20 per employee for the year – can easily be recouped in cost savings achieved through elimination of duplicate coverage or the correction of even a single item that would otherwise result in a penalty.