By Helen Karakoudas | ACA Education Director
Original post on March 25, 2016
In all the years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law – six now – the ACA birthday we’re marking this week is the first to come during the filing season for the IRS form that the ACA introduced:
The anxiety-stirring 1095-C.
Yes, it’s one thing to have an acknowledgment of a landmark, albeit controversial, law being enacted:
- We’re now at more than half a decade after March 23, 2010, the day President Barack Obama signed the overhaul of access to health care in the United States.
It’s another matter, though, to be acknowledging enactment of a hot potato right at the height of employer jitters over compliance with one of the law’s mandates:
- Businesses affected by the ACA employer mandate had until midnight March 31, 2016 to postmark or email to every eligible employee (if they are fully insured) and to every covered individual (if they are self-insured) a new and tough-to-crank-out tax form that details what health insurance they were offered.
This timing spotlights what we, on the front lines of employers’ ACA compliance efforts, often observe – fuzziness sure can morph to focus.
The ACA inkblot
“The ACA is something of a policy Rorschach test, with people seeing different things in it depending on their political leanings,” says Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research group that analyzes major health care issues. Levitt is one of two big-picture ACA experts quoted in this week’s Politico story The ACA at six: What have we learned?
From where we stand in the ACA weeds, helping employers meet the IRS reporting obligation that the health law created, we find a related takeaway as the ACA ages.
Unifying power of the 1095-C
For as diverse and divisive as views are of the Affordable Care Act as a whole, one specific part of its enforcement is oddly unifying – the 1095-C form.
- So absorbing is concentration on the 1095-C’s lines and codes, motivation to get this form filled out right overrides any business owner’s, HR director’s, payroll manager’s and CFO’s politics.
- Conservative and liberal alike can scratch their heads over why a 1A on Line 14 means no 2G on Line 16.
- Not to mention what a civil conversation-starter the conflict between Part II and III can be for self-insured employers.
While in one-on-one calls we may learn of our clients’ political stands on the law overall and the employer mandate in particular, those views never come up in our ACA User Group – calls that we have been hosting since January 2015. Recently, it was interesting to note how a political stance surfaced in a testimonial:
“During this ACA compliance adventure, there have been many challenging moments, but the Integrity team has been there at every turn. While I am still not a fan of the healthcare reform initiative, I am a fan of Integrity Data,” said Kathleen Kripp, Senior HR Manager at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Monthly tracking – an ACA fire extinguisher
As we wind down the inaugural season for ACA form production, we see no end to the political fire-extinguishing power of the IRS Form 1095-C. Monthly tracking, the bar-raising compliance requirement that the ACA brought to workforce reporting, is a great equalizer. The nonpartisan huddles we first saw among our clients’ ACA team members now continue.
With the Affordable Care Act being the law of the land and penalties for noncompliance with the ACA employer mandate being so significant, the professionals we work with are saving their political views for other moments. They instead are paying attention to the one area they do have control over with respect to ACA compliance: managing the risk of coverage penalties – which will be assessed monthly.
To learn more about how we at Integrity Data help employers keep better ACA records throughout the year, so they can sigh at year-end, click here.
To sign up for an introductory webinar to our ACA software, click here.