With the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility reporting requirements for 2015 quickly approaching, benefit advisers should already be working with employer clients to implement benefit administration systems to ensure compliance with the law, industry experts say. And those advisers who haven’t had this conversation with their clients need to do so now, they caution.

Starting in 2015, applicable large employers will need to identify whether eligible employees have been offered employer-sponsored health care coverage and whether that coverage meets the standard for minimum essential coverage, among other requirements. Employers will also be required to track employee eligibility for health care coverage, including number of hours worked, etc.

“When you look at what is required, there is no way employers can track this information manually anymore. Having a benefit administration system to help employers do this is key,” Jamie Hawkins, president, CEO and founder of the consulting firm Benefit Technology Resources told attendees of EBA’s Workplace Benefits Summit during a pre-conference workshop Monday morning.

Beverly Beattie, CEO of the Miami, Fla.-based agency Selden Beattie Benefit Advisors, agreed, adding, “You should be having a serious conversation with your clients about this tracking. They have a three month window to get this tracking in place.”

It’s the employer’s responsibility to be generating the required forms to report to the Internal Revenue Service compliance with the ACA, she reminded, adding that even for those applicable employers with 50-99 employees for which the employer mandate has been delayed until 2016, tracking and reporting of 2015 numbers has not been precluded.

See related story: First steps to take with IRS draft ACA reporting instructions

“A lot of employers see the year 2016 and think they have plenty of time to implement a benefit administration system, but they do not,” Hawkins said, adding that an efficient administration system takes at least 3 months to properly implement.

System features

Advisers should be working with employers to make sure their current or a new benefit administration system can track variable hours and hours worked by an employee, a component that will be imperative for ACA compliant reporting.

An efficient administration system should also be able to track and verify an employer’s notice to each employee about the availability of the public marketplaces, another requirement of the ACA, said Hawkins.

The health care reform law also requires employers to expand their coverage to qualifying dependent children and an efficient benefit administration system should be configured to notify employers when an employee’s dependent is reaching the age of disqualification.

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