The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act enacted by President Barack Obama in 2010 continues to have significant effects on businesses across the U.S. Changes to legislation have introduced new considerations for companies regarding health care spending and benefits administration.
Health benefits have become a hot-button issue among employee advocacy groups, and executives who misstep in implementing their corporate benefits policies may face costly lawsuits as a result. Small-business owners must use any tool at their disposal to make the implementation of ACA-compliant health care benefits as smooth as possible.
Keeping up with changing standards
The Society for Human Resource Management pointed out that ACA legislation will require all companies with 100 or more full-time employees to provide affordable coverage to these workers by January 2015. While the ACA website is fairly succinct in its definition of affordable care – consisting of annual premiums that don't exceed 9.5 percent of an employee's yearly income for a plan that covers at least 60 percent of medical costs – an issue businesses may still face is that of tracking and collecting necessary employee data to meet compliance regulations.
Turning to technology
The ACA has been associated with technology since its roll-out, but not necessarily for the right reasons. The launch and almost immediate subsequent crash of the overburdened Healthcare.gov may have small-business owners hesitant to turn to additional technological tools to help with implementation. However, in the past year or so, Web, mobile and software developers have turned to the task of developing tools to make keeping up with ACA regulations easier for smaller companies.
In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management noted that there's been a growth in a micro-sector of the larger tech industry centered around ACA-specific technology development. The source noted that many solutions coming out of this sector use cloud computing and, in some cases, may even be compatible with existing company servers or services used for payroll tracking and other standard HR services.
HR outsourcing is a solution
Executives who are wary of diving into the expanding ocean of ACA-related technology could benefit from working with a PEO company. These companies are staffed not only by HR professionals, but also by licensed benefits specialists who are able to help companies wade through the mire of options for ACA implementation. The expertise of HR consulting can be a key aspect of a small business finding the right health care option.