Affordable Care Act Solutions

Pursers Office uses Sage’s Affordable Care Act program. It is a low cost self-help solution. This alternative relies on a dashboard, shared by customer, their broker & legal specialists, and us. Our roles are teacher, coach & system consultant. We could get involved, but only when asked. For our clients, our software interfaces directly with the ACA software. So payroll history is automatic. If the firm is not a our payroll client, they could load their history from a .csv or Excel file without us being involved.

There are technical issues that HR professionals are coming to terms with, and insurance brokers understand. Nuances of insurance policies are not our specialty. Labor law is a specialty in itself, and the Affordable Care Act is reluctantly the new specialty within both Human Resources, Insurance Brokers, and Labor Lawyers. So far I have not met any lawyers eager to step up. We will get smarter with repetition but not before the start date of Jan 1.

Our roles are teach er, coach, & consultant. While we could help with a data load, we do not have the sophistication a broker has within his trade. Obviously the same for lawyers or certified HR specialists.

Within the legislation 1099 employees are not part of the data collection. So several firms may breathe a sigh of relief. But part-time employees’ hours are considered. They are added together and divided by 30 by 52 to determine the number of equivalent full time employees their labor represents. And if a temporary employee shows a history of working over 30 hours, they will receive a health insurance form just like a full time employee does. This is an area of controversy because corporate rules may conflict with the 30 hour rule. We did not write the law.

So we rely on a shared dashboard. The brokers input data within their realm, the customer either provides payroll history or we do. Between the broker and the customer they define things like how big the sampling range should be, an element of statistic preparation. There are other similar fields such as how long does an employer take to determine whether a new hire is a full time or part time employee. And there is a look back period within the statistics to ensure the current period is routine and not unusual.

Coincidentally, this year, employer health insurance subsidies will appear on employee W-2s as an information block. Heretofore, employers might have viewed those subsidies as an accounts payable issue not payroll. That changed. Now the employer contributions are collected initially as year to date within a payroll, and then added by payroll throughout the rest of the year.

Thereafter, it becomes a routine part of payroll reporting. The difference, though, is there is not a room full of consultants determining the rules of collection. Often the firm providing the data has less than 50 employees and little if any HR or other specialists on retainer. We think this requirement, while informing employees information about their health insurance or lack of health insurance, will be used for future adventures within the Affordable Care Act.

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