3 tips to prepare for the ACA

As the implementation date for the Affordable Care Act draws near, businesses must start making preparations to ensure that they are in full compliance with the law. Failure to adhere to the federal regulations will result in stiff penalties. D Healthcare Daily recently pointed out that fines will be $2,000 for companies with 50 employees or more that don't offer group health insurance to staff members and $3,000 for businesses with plans that cover less than 60 percent of healthcare expenses. These measures were put into place so employers wouldn't be able to save money by skirting the law. 

The ACA will change how HR departments think about insurance coverage and benefits packages. Businesses can't afford to delay their preparations any longer so here are three tips to help get ready for the ACA's enactment. 

Expanding coverage
To some professionals, the easiest way to comply with the ACA is to buy a blanket insurance policy to cover employees. However, this strategy only works in the short term because the healthcare regulation will expand over the next few years to include more people. For instance, D Healthcare Daily explains that coverage plans have to include workers' dependents in 2014. What's more, there has been no clarification whether the ACA also requires employers to insure staff members' spouses. 

Ultimately, this means that businesses must find policies that can be scaled for specific situations. By having a healthcare plan that allows companies to add new recipients, a company will ensure that it can adjust to new provisions to the ACA in a timely fashion. 

Capitalize on wellness programs
Under the ACA, the federal government is trying to find ways to help business mitigate the costs of offering insurance to employees. Specifically, wellness programs allow companies to earn rewards by encouraging staff members to lead healthy lifestyles. According to the Department of Labor, an enterprise can earn 20 to 30 percent of coverage costs back as financial incentives. To qualify, an organization has to take steps like helping employees receive immunizations and access medical information. What's more, the rewards increase to a maximum of 50 percent for businesses that actively work "to prevent or reduce tobacco use."

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