ACA Reporting Solution, FTW

As most businesses know by now, the new year brought new IRS reporting requirements related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For a company the size of Viget -- just over the 50-person threshold to require compliance with the new reporting regulations, but not big enough to have an overhead staff able to readily deal with the implications -- determining how we were going to meet the new reporting requirements had been a challenge.

Reporting Solution Options

As I explored the landscape this past fall, three types of reporting solution avenues emerged:

  • Payroll processing providers
  • Insurance brokers
  • Stand-alone software solutions.

I began to contact companies in each of the three categories to determine a solution for my Form 1095-C and 1094-C reporting requirements. My experience is summarized below and may be helpful to others in a similar predicament.

Payroll Processing Providers 

The payroll processing vendors I met with -- including our current provider, ADP -- all offer tiered payroll platforms, with each tier optimized for a larger-sized business. Each platform tier offers additional features (and costs more). 

Our problem: at our size and the way we operate, the lowest payroll processing tier suits us just fine. We only run payroll once a month; we are able to pay out reimbursable expenses via payroll; and we already have long-established tools and processes in place to take care of benefits enrollment, recruiting, employee communications, PTO tracking, time tracking, etc.  

The catch: none of the payroll providers’ lowest tier included ACA reporting. We just couldn’t swallow the price leap associated with moving to the next-level payroll platform if we were making the change solely for ACA reporting and didn’t intend to use all the other features that were built into the richer platform.

Insurance Brokers

Seeing a need, several of the large insurance brokerage firms have added ACA reporting as an offering for an additional fee -- or for free! Well, we all know that nothing is ever really “free.” When I dug deeper, I discovered that as long as you assign the backend commission on your insurance policies to them, they would file the reports with the IRS for you. But, you still had to do all the data compilation yourself. And, something felt sleazy about the whole experience. These brokerage firms weren’t trying to gain my business by promoting their experience as reputable insurance experts; they were trying to trick me into believing that I could easily get something I needed for “free,” and all I had to do was sign one piece of paper. And, they used hard-sell techniques -- repeated calls to meet, multiple voicemails, a constant stream of emails -- tactics that completely turn me off. I don’t want to do business with anyone who operates that way. Plus, I have too much loyalty and respect for the trusted relationship I’ve built with our current insurance brokers, who are experts in their field and who have always acted with integrity -- I wasn’t looking to assign their commission to someone else who hadn’t earned it just for a partial solution to my ACA reporting challenge.

Stand-Alone Software Solutions

A number of software products have hit the market over the last few months to meet the new ACA reporting requirement. Some are associated with established HR or accounting firms. Others are new offerings from companies who specialize in software products that meet other IRS requirements, such as 1099Pro. I really liked Greatland’s Yearli Performance online product (they also offer a desktop solution). A combination of the price point, the elegant user interface, and superior customer service won me over. It took me just a few hours each day over the course of ~ 5 business days to enter and double-check all my data. And, once I was ready to submit my reports for filing, within minutes our employees started to receive their individual IRS forms via email from the Greatland system. Easy-peasy. Next year should be even easier now that everyone’s data resides in my secure online account.  

And, did I mention who conducted research on their own, sat through demos of various products, and recommended Greatland to me? My trusted insurance broker. That’s karma (and great service).

Cindy helped start Viget and now serves as our Vice President of Operations. She remains fascinated and challenged by an industry that never stops evolving.

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