Staying in compliance with ACA (Affordable Care Act) regulations is complicated for companies, but making an error can be costly. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, requires companies to keep very comprehensive records of employee status. Passport Software, Inc., has devised a solution with its Affordable Care Act Software (ACA Software).
“The Affordable Care Act is really a different animal. HR professionals weren’t trained for this, nor were accountants or lawyers. The ACA doesn’t fit neatly into any of those areas and it’s not always intuitive,” says Adam Miller, Passport Software’s ACA product manager.
Passport Software, based in Northfield, IL, has been providing business software solutions for more than 30 years to customers from coast to coast. “Our customers typically need more than a silo modeled off-the-shelf product. They want to use technology to their advantage and these are basically companies that have outgrown QuickBooks,” says Miller.
Before the ACA went into effect, Passport prepared to meet companies’ needs in record keeping and compliance by designating Miller to be the ACA specialist and head up their ACA Management Software team. Miller believes his background in engineering and customer service was a nice fit.
“I studied the ACA for months, mapped out all the requirements; info we had, info we needed and mapped out how to get those things to the user in a way that was easy to understand,” says Miller. “And now it’s great, I get to talk with real-life entrepreneurs, business owners, business managers and when someone calls I know I have the answers for them. So it feels like the best part of a sales position, except I don’t actually have to sell.”
ACA Compliance Software for Small to Medium Sized Businesses
Complying with the ACA has been particularly difficult for small to medium sized businesses. “These companies don’t have big HR departments with knowledge of all the ACA reporting and tracking requirements. So to help them, I think we’ve come up with the most comprehensive ACA reporting software that I’m aware of. And it starts with identifying employees who are full-time and, just as important, the way they’re trending. The IRS definition of full-time is 30 hours a week not the traditional 40,” says Miller. The software enables users to keep track of fluid information throughout the year, such as employees adding coverage, employee statuses changing, and contributions going up or down.
ACA Reporting Software Streamlines the Record Keeping Process
Miller points out that there are many misconceptions regarding ACA compliance. He says one of the biggest misconceptions is regarding ACA reporting as an accounting system, when it’s actually a record-keeping process. It requires companies to record fluid details on monthly basis. “So it’s not just offering Fred insurance in January and checking a box on a government form the next year. You really have to stay ahead of the process, make sure you’re making those offers on time, tracking the information accurately, make sure you’re in compliance with all the ACA requirements,” he says.
Common Ownership Rule Closes Up Loopholes
Miller says many businesses are not aware of the common ownership rule, which often applies to franchise restaurants. “If you own multiple businesses and an employee works for more than one, their hours must be combined for the purposes of identifying them as a full-time or part-time employee. Common ownership rules make it clear that the employee is considered full-time by the IRS. So you can’t get around it, they’ve closed up all those loopholes,” he says.
To avoid severe penalties, Passport ACA software has a level of integration that consolidates an employee’s hours across multiple companies and is also intelligent enough to handle the complex reporting rules affected by common ownership, Miller says.
Navigating the Complex ACA 1095-C Form Correctly
Miller warns that the language in part two of the 1095-c form, regarding the offer of coverage and whether or not the employee enrolled can be confusing and difficult to navigate. “ Line 15 is the contribution amount, but that’s a little bit tricky. They’re asking for the employee’s share of employee only coverage that they could have gotten. They’re no longer concerned with the fact that you just offered coverage to their spouse and six dependents. They want to know what it would have cost them for the employee only. So that can be a little misleading and a real stumbling block for a lot of people,” Miller says.
Miller points out that many companies are already offering insurance to their employees, but the burden of the ACA is the reporting. “It can be such a burden to do it correctly and to do it at all. Whether you’re filing paper forms or if you have over 250 employees you must file electronically. So just the act of recording can be worse than the actual providing insurance coverage to your employees,” he says.
Miller advises business owners to get educated about ACA regulations, but if they get overwhelmed, they should contact an ACA specialist. Miller can be reached at 847-729-7900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Markus Loving is a Best Selling Author, National Speaker, long a time entrepreneur and a host on Business Innovators Radio with his show The Inside Track and contributor to Business Innovators Magazine and Small Business Trendsetters where he covers leaders and trendsetters in Business. As the founder of OnlineMarketDomination.com, over the last 10 years, Markus has been empowering business owners across the country to Dominate Their Market Online with Reputation Marketing, Local Search, and Authority Presence Marketing. Markus gets great joy in Demystifying the Internet for his clients as he educates them with the most cutting edge and innovative strategies, tools and processes.