Focus, Health Care, and Human Resources

Five years of frustration

Local businesses get help with Affordable Care Act regulations.

November 6, 2015
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Workers are frustrated with low wages in West Michigan. ©Thinkstockphoto.com

America is now five years into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as the Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama signed the act, often referred to by its nickname “Obamacare,” into law March 23, 2010. Since then, there’s been much national and local discussion on its impact on both local business and the individual.

One major question facing businesses has been the process of implementing and staying up-to-date on the Affordable Care Act, given that when it first came out, it was considered exceptionally lengthy and complicated.

That’s where local groups are helping small businesses to fill in the blanks, which is exactly what Interlogic Outsourcing Inc., or IOI, is doing. The Indiana-based company, which is a provider of payroll and employer services, works with a number of small businesses in the West Michigan area through its Grand Rapids office.

IOI has taken special care to deal with the Affordable Care Act, said Troy Cadotte, IOI sales manager.

“The Patient Protection Affordable Care Act is a complex legislation with many facets, and the employer mandate is only one piece of that puzzle,” Cadotte said.

“The employer mandate requirement takes effect now to include the calculation of full-time equivalents, plan assignments, who was eligible with enrollment and/or disenrollment dates — all of which are required to be reported on the 1094C and 1095C due to IRS at the beginning of 2016,” Cadotte said.

The ACA changed the way employers offer medical coverage and keep it within the timeframes as set forth by the legislation — particularly measurement period, administrative period and stability period, Cadotte said.

Some employers used to offer coverage to employees only if they worked 40 hours per week, whereas the ACA employer mandate is now 30 hours or more, on average, over the course of their look-back — otherwise known as their measurement period, he said.

Some employers also are re-evaluating their medical plans and changing how the plan is administered, since the ACA took effect.

Most health insurance organizations are assisting with the 1094B and 1095B reporting requirements as part of the employer mandate, he said.

“Most of the questions (we get) are primarily around the 1095C and how the data is moved from the system to the form automatically. Also, employers ask about box 15 of the 1095C and the amount of the lowest-cost contribution amount for the plan the employee chose.

“Also, questions are asked about the required codes placed on the 1095C. You really need to know the 1094C and 1095C to understand the required data to be collected from both the employer and employee,” he said.

“The PPACA has provided guidance with the required types of insurance plans; i.e., does it meet minimum value and minimum essential coverage set forth by the legislation? It is important for organizations to seek guidance through an insurance broker and/or carrier to ensure affordability and minimum value requirements set forth in the PPACA … and again, the PPACA provides a ‘play or pay’ decision for employers to make, if they have 50 or more FTEs (full-time equivalents).”

One of the tools IOI provides clients is the ACA Dashboard, which helps them figure out their requirements.

“(The ACA Dashboard) is a program that’s inter-phased with our payroll system, and any night after payroll is processed, if someone chooses to do this, it’s done automatically. The program is written based on the rules of the Act. It updates it automatically,” said Sue Hoekwater, manager of IOI’s Grand Rapids office.

“(Clients) ask if we have something that can help them (get) information, and what do I recommend. They’re not quite sure what to do. It’s very time consuming. So right away (they ask), ‘Do you have something that can help us?’ We’ve been very proactive.”

Being proactive with clients is exceptionally important, Hoekwater said. The complexity of the Affordable Care Act means clients have lots of questions and want someone to reach out to them with answers. Providing them with information has been vital, she said.

“I’m calling all my clients in Michigan and wondering how they’re handling it because it’s pretty complex. They have to have a way of determining which employees qualify and fall under the Affordable Care Act coverage. We have a tool that tracks it.”

Cadotte said with the reporting mandate just around the corner, it’s important for IOI to help any payroll client with this complex requirement. All 1095Cs are due to employees no later than Jan. 31, 2016. The 1094C and 1095C are due to the IRS no later than March 31, he said. 

“Our clients had the opportunity to learn about the ACA Dashboard tool provided by IOI. While doing so, it afforded them the opportunity to learn the ACA mandate. Most of our clients encountered the ‘aha moment’ when IOI demonstrated this intuitive and user-friendly tool,” which takes a complex requirement and makes it simple to use, Cadotte said.

“If organizations want a credible and resourceful ACA tool, payroll is the first point of entry to automate the ACA dashboard tool. Automation and efficiency is key. Interlogic Outsourcing Inc. is closely aligned with the National Association of Health Underwriters and Thompson Reuter’s.”

IOI isn’t the only one doing this kind of work. The Small Business Association of Michigan recently launched SBAM Connectivity, a new benefit to its members that will help small business owners with payroll, employee benefit administration, and time and attendance, to be in compliance with ACA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as well as other human resource-based regulations.

“With SBAM Connectivity, our members can select from an array of options that will help save time and money and keep their records up-to-speed,” said Scott Lyon, SBAM senior vice president.

“We have done the homework so they don’t have to and right-sized the technology used by large companies in their human resource administration. Better than that, we have right-priced it, as well,” Lyon said.

SBAM Connectivity is powered by BenePay Technologies to help employers stay compliant with health care changes and reforms. BenePay, headquartered in Grand Rapids, was formed as part of a merger of technology provider Lyceum Business Services Inc., and the payroll/human resource service company BenePay LLC.

SBAM Connectivity allows users to choose from modules that “include standard payroll administration, all the way to a fully administered and integrated system that includes payroll, time and attendance, expense tracking, employee benefits administration (enrollment, additions, changes and terminations), employee evaluations, payroll tax filings and a link to any private exchange small business owners may be using,” according to SBAM.

“Connectivity is especially powerful because it connects with SBAM’s sponsored Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan/Blue Care Network program, Lincoln Financial, Section 125, COBRA administration and our consolidated billing system,” Lyon said.

“Connectivity lets small business owners easily scale the platform to what is right for them. And they never pay for what they don’t need or will not use.”

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