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Employers urged to turn their attention to health reform law compliance

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CHICAGO — Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold premium subsidies for health insurance obtained through both federal and state exchanges, employers should turn their focus to the health reform law’s extensive reporting requirements, benefits experts agreed.

Though employers must file electronic reports by March 2016 about the health coverage offered to full-time employees, the majority of employers are ill-prepared, according to panel participants at Businessolver’s Vision 20/15 event Friday in Chicago, where they discussed employer compliance with the Affordable Care Act.

Most employers “did not understand that they were going to have to report, and now they’re scrambling to figure it out,” said Rhonda Marcucci, partner and consultant with Chicago-based benefits consulting firm Gruppo Marcucci L.L.C.

“They are behind, and they don’t quite believe it’s going to be as hard” as it will be, said Chicago-based Blake Chapman, vice president of Alliant Employee Benefits, a unit of Alliant Insurance Services Inc.

The reporting requirements are complex and sometimes ambiguous, and finding guidance can be difficult, according to the panel.

Employers should be determining who in their organization will be completing the report, how data will be collected and stored, and what providers they will partner with to help file reports and ensure compliance, the panelists said.

When it comes to the risks involved in providing the wrong information, Chicago-based Ben Conley, an employee benefits attorney with Seyfarth Shaw L.L.P., said it’s better to err on the side of accidently misreporting data than failing to file at all and receiving a penalty.

The risks involved in misreporting are “nil if you have a good-faith argument” for why you reported data a certain way, he said.