Navigating Affordable Care Act (ACA) Compliance for Small Businesses

Navigating Affordable Care Act (ACA) Compliance for Small Businesses

06.09.23 08:04 PM By Forrest Huggins

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has transformed the landscape of healthcare in the United States, aiming to make quality healthcare accessible to all Americans. While the ACA primarily focuses on individual and family coverage, it also impacts small businesses. Navigating ACA compliance can be a complex task for small business owners, but understanding the basics is crucial to ensure legal compliance and provide employees with the healthcare they deserve.

Understanding ACA Basics for Small Businesses:

The ACA introduces certain requirements that small businesses must adhere to, particularly those with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees. These businesses fall under the category of Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) and are subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision, often referred to as the "employer mandate."

Key Considerations for ACA Compliance:

1. Offering Minimum Essential Coverage: ALEs are required to offer minimum essential health coverage to at least 95% of their full-time employees and their dependents up to age 26. This coverage should meet specific standards outlined by the ACA.

2. Affordability and Minimum Value: The coverage offered to employees must also be affordable and provide minimum value. This means the employee's share of the premium cost for individual coverage should not exceed a certain percentage of their household income, and the plan should cover a minimum percentage of healthcare costs.

3. Reporting Requirements: ALEs are required to provide detailed reports to the IRS and their employees annually, showcasing compliance with ACA regulations. These reports include information about the coverage offered and the enrollment status of employees.

4. Penalties for Non-Compliance: Failure to comply with ACA regulations can result in substantial penalties. These penalties can vary based on factors such as the number of employees and the extent of non-compliance.

Options for Small Businesses:

Navigating ACA compliance can be a challenge for small businesses with limited resources. However, there are options available to help simplify the process:

1. Use Third-Party Administrators: Many small businesses opt to partner with third-party administrators or HR software platforms that specialize in ACA compliance. These solutions can help manage reporting, tracking employee hours, and ensuring accurate calculations.

2. Consider Health Insurance Marketplaces: Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees aren't subject to the employer mandate, but they can still explore health insurance options through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplace.

3. Consult with Experts: Seeking guidance from legal professionals or consultants experienced in ACA compliance can provide clarity and help you avoid potential pitfalls.

Navigating ACA compliance may seem daunting, but it's a vital responsibility for small business owners. By understanding the basics of ACA regulations, including offering minimum essential coverage, affordability, reporting requirements, and potential penalties, small businesses can ensure legal compliance and provide their employees with valuable healthcare benefits. Exploring available options, such as third-party administrators and health insurance marketplaces, can simplify the process and help small businesses thrive while upholding their commitment to employee well-being.

Forrest Huggins