Working with Public Benefit Exchanges

Human resource departments must be aware of the changes taking place under the Affordable Care Act to ensure that they are compliant with new regulations, and that they are aware of the new available options for purchasing health care coverage. This is particularly important when considering the rise in health care costs which have led many businesses to question if they are able to continue to provide group coverage. Moreover, employers who meet certain criteria and who do not provide health care coverage may face a penalty. Similarly, employers who do not provide plans which meet federal requirements may also be susceptible to a penalty. Non-compliant plans include those which do not provide certain minimum and essential coverage to full time employees and which do not provide affordable health care, as defined under the new health care reform regulations.

Fortunately, there will be an increase in the number of new coverage options available for individuals and small businesses. Public benefit exchanges will provide greater support for employers in both choosing and purchasing health care coverage. Under the benefit exchanges, employers will be able to research and compare coverage plans, seek advice and access customer support during the decision making process, including having any specific questions answered before making a purchasing decision. Of particular importance, is how a business can also receive information regarding their eligibility for tax credits or other sources of financial support, which may help to reduce the cost of purchasing group coverage. Public benefit exchanges also allow employers and individuals to enroll in health plans through their portal exchange website or via telephone.

Businesses must also understand the impact that the health care reform may have on their administrative processes. For example, some businesses may be required to report the cost and value of health coverage on W2 reports. Changes may also be seen to automatic enrolment, with waiting periods for new employees which are in excess of 90 days, no longer being allowed under the Affordable Care Act after 2014. Businesses must therefore be aware of their compliance strategies, their options, and any necessary changes in how they administrate their benefits. Working with HR consultants can help to simplify the compliance process. Consultants can analyze the current status of the business, and inform employers of their coverage options. They can also offer advice on how to adapt administrative process to accommodate for the new changes, such as changes within payroll and HR departments, benefits administration, and talent management. Human capital management options are integrated software solutions which can help to streamline processes whilst ensuring compliance. These solutions are also flexible and can be adapted to account for any future changes that may occur under the health care reform. They also help to disseminate health care coverage information to employees, allowing for open enrolment and employee self-service. Consultants can help companies to have a thorough understanding of their responsibilities under the ACA, including their coverage options, ways to reduce administrative and purchasing costs and make it easier for employers to navigate the health care reform.

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