A new reporting requirement of the Affordable Care Act that starts next year is proving challenging for one Albany road construction company. Two other area companies have dodged the issue by outsourcing health care benefits.
In January, employers will have to send workers and the IRS a form for every individual about whether the person was eligible for, offered and got health insurance. The final form hasn't yet been released, but businesses are already making sure they can comply.
It's another bureaucratic hurdle we have to overcome and it just takes resources, time. It's a distraction," said Joseph Farone, senior vice president and chief financial officer of road construction company Gorman Group.
The Gorman Group has about 250 employees, many of whom are seasonal because of the nature of the road maintenance and construction business.
While the payroll software the business uses has provided new tables to input the required information, that would still require the company's human resources department to go in and input information for every employee, every month.
To address that time-consuming possibility, Gorman's IT director Barb Morse is developing a database. She estimates the cost at $10,000 to $15,000. That doesn't include the hours spent going to seminars or the time it will take the HR department to deal with the new requirement.
“We have some turnover for our crews — so we have terminations, we have new hires, we have people that have passed away, we have to check the people who don’t have insurance,” Morse said. “That’s been a very challenging reporting process.”
There's an added layer of complexity because the Gorman Group does most of its in-state business as Gorman Brothers Inc. Some employees work for just one company, but others work for both. So Farone has to decide which company to report the health insurance for those employees under.
(Farone said he's glad they consolidated from seven down to two back in 2008.)
Two local technology companies said they'd skirted this issue entirely — one because it outsources its payroll functions, and the other because it is part of a professional employer organization.
CEO of Saratoga Springs software developer Chequed Greg Moran said his company uses TriNet, a California professional employer organization. That essentially means all Chequed workers actually get paid by TriNet, and Chequed "leases" those employees.
Chequed recently merged with a Dallas company and now has about 80 employees. Moran said they'll probably remain with TriNet because it takes off the administrative burden and allows for a far wider range of options for employees.
“It’s wildly complicated, especially for a smaller company where you don’t have benefit specialists on staff … It’s so easy to make a mistake and find yourself in legal trouble or compliance trouble," Moran said.
Another technology company, IT firm Annese & Associates, headquartered in Clifton Park, does more traditional outsourcing of its payroll to Paychex Inc. CEO Ray Apy said Paychex is a client. Apy said his main concern with the ACA has been cost increases.
For next year, the company is projecting a 16 percent rise in cost for its health insurance. While part of that is growth, Apy mainly attributed it to rising premiums.
The company pays 100 percent of the cost for premiums for its high-quality plan and also funds employees' health savings account.
"We're not making any changes to our offering … but it is a concern and the costs are out of control," Apy said.