The Bright Side of the ACA

Compliance, and taxes, and fines! Oh my! We’ve left Kansas and are well into the Oz of the post-Affordable Care Act landscape. But that doesn’t mean we have to be frightened by every moving shadow in the woods. Aren’t you tired of all the scare tactics surrounding the ACA? We certainly are.

We tend to look at the bright side of things here at Benefitfocus. So we were proud to be represented at One Place by our associate, Jeremy Martin, as he expressed a refreshing take on the ACA.

Yes, the market is rapidly changing and both employers and carriers have had to adapt, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As Jeremy noted, “The ACA has opened the door to considering new technology and new models for delivering benefits. Necessity is the mother of invention.” We ought to view change as an opportunity for growth rather than a threat to organizational goals.

What’s really changing anyway?

The market may be unstable, with continuing changes to legislature, but your ambitions and needs remain the same. A little turbulence in the market won’t stop you from achieving the success that everyone in your organization has been working for, nor will it stop you from ensuring your employees receive the care they deserve for all of their hard work.

Prior to the ACA, the primary concerns of HR and benefits administrators included cost-containment, compliance, communicating the value of the benefits program, consumer choice, system modernization, measurement & data-driven insights and interoperability among business partners.

And guess what! All of these needs—all of your needs—remain relevant in the post-ACA world. They’re still the same, and they still matter.

The one factor that ACA alarmists tend to charge with heavy portent is compliance. But you were responsible for compliance even before the ACA. Don’t let the hype get the best of you. While it’s true that the “what?” and the “how long?” of compliance has changed due to the ACA, it is only a change in scale—not a complete overhaul of your HR and benefits management strategy.

While you need to ensure that you understand the complex rules and sheer scale involved in ACA compliance, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your other needs. Instead, you should view this challenge as a unique opportunity to realign, revamp and hone your benefits strategy. As Jeremy so deftly put it, “Ambiguity within the legislature does not impact your needs! Ask yourself how you can leverage the ACA to accomplish your strategic goals. Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Order from chaos

Don’t let the blur of the spinning world distract you from your objectives. Let the clarity of your ambition pierce the cloud of uncertainty like a ray of morning light, illuminating the path to success. “The ACA is full of silver linings,” Jeremy asserted. “There’s no need to throw up our hands and give up.”

From cost containment and communication to consumer choice and technology, the ACA is an impetus for positive change. Here’s how:

Cost Containment

  • To meet compliance requirements, organizations are required to collect more data than ever
  • Where there’s greater data, there’s greater opportunity to observe trends and predict costs
  • Combining an enhanced data collection & analytics solution with a strategic wellness program can help to truly bend the cost curve through effective disease management

Communication

  • Treat the ACA as a conversation starter—reach out to your workforce, own the message and express the value of your benefits package
  • Be a beacon. Show your employees you care by guiding them through change. Be sure to warn them of the consequences of indecision
  • The ACA affords you the chance to engage new full time employees—strengthen your organization’s culture and use this opportunity to engage on more than just benefits

Consumer Choice

  • Utilize educational tools to drive understanding, especially during open enrollment
  • Analyze data and watch trends to understand the goals of individuals within your organization

Technology Strategy

  • Ensure your technology solution is flexible and capable of adapting to market shifts
  • Find technology that does more than just meet the letter of compliance

It doesn’t have to be difficult

Benefitfocus offers a variety of products and services to help you maintain compliance with the ACA, including tools for look-back calculations related to variable hour employees. Check out the ACA Management solutions offered through our platform, and see the bright side of the ACA!