Most employers have still not determined how they will comply with complex Affordable Care Act reporting requirements that began January 1 and are due to the Internal Revenue Service and employees starting in 2016.

The forms must contain data for employees and their dependents for every month in 2015, but a PricewaterHouseCoopers and Equifax study found one-quarter (26%) of small employers (<1,000 employees) are still undecided if they will implement a reporting solution in-house or outsource it. More than one-third (37%) of large employers (>5,000 employees) said they were in discussions with outsourcing vendors while 12% have not yet considered any solutions or do not know.

Now is the time for a broker to have proactive conversations about these requirements, says Joe Ellis, senior vice president at CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services in Philadelphia. “[Employers] are not prepared. They ask ‘what is the next thing? … What is it now,’” he says. “Many employers are not being advised of the requirements by their payroll vendors and most of them are not being advised by their benefit consultant or broker.”

He says he specifically informs his clients about what the requirements are and how to collect the data. “We rarely have great news to pass on to a client,” he says. But employers, he adds, “are relieved when we say ‘Here is the issue and solution.’”

“We will talk for a while about various solutions and come to some conclusions,” he says.

Broker’s role

For brokers and consultants, they have multiple paths to take when helping their clients, says Aron Minken, director in PwC’s health care practice. First, they need to make sure they have consulted their clients on the various technical requirements of collecting and distributing this data.

A consultant further needs to walk their client through the regulations and apply them to specific solutions in a way “that ferrets out what specific issues will need to be fought through and considered,” he says. “It will differ client by client.”

Consultants also can potentially help manage the data. At large employers, the data comes from multiple systems and is held in different ways, Minken explains.

Ellis believes brokers need to make this a priority. “If they still don’t do anything and it becomes September 2015, employers are making a mistake and they are vulnerable,” he says.

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