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Speaker: 2014 a Watershed Year For Health Care Reform Compliance
ANAHEIM, Calif.  (4/25/13)--Next year will be a "watershed" time for employers to meet mandates and deadlines related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), two speakers told a CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference audience Tuesday in Ahaheim, Calif. Credit unions still have significant work to do to ensure they comply with the law, they said.

Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives, Digital Benefit Advisors, and Brad Pricer, senior manager, Employee Benefits Product Management, CUNA Mutual Group, outline health care reform compliance dates related to the Affordable Care Act for attendees at the CUNA HR/TD Council Conference Tuesday in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Citing the Credit Union National Association's 2012-2013 Credit Union Staff Survey for Human Resources Planning, Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual Group senior manager, Employee Benefits Product Management, said just 31% of credit unions surveyed are ready for ACA requirements in 2013 and 2014.

"The Department of Labor is now beginning to audit businesses for ACA compliance," Pricer added. "Credit unions should be working with their broker or consultant to stay on top of required mandates."

Pricer co-presented with Annette Bechtold, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and reform initiatives with Digital Benefit Advisors (DBA). CUNA Mutual and DBA announced in February they were working together to provide resources, expertise and education to help credit unions navigate the complexities of ACA and employee benefits strategy.

About 14% of credit unions surveyed are prepared for 2013 ACA requirements. However, 26% indicated they are either not prepared but have a timeline for beginning preparations, or weren't starting preparations until after 2012, Pricer said.

Bechtold reviewed the most critical ACA elements employers must comply with in 2013 and 2014. They include:

  • Ensuring compliance with ACA's nondiscrimination rules regarding favoring highly compensated employees in benefits offered;
  • Understanding whether the health coverage offered to employees is sufficient to avoid penalties where applicable;
  • Ensuring health plans contain all mandated plan requirements; and
  • Meeting reporting requirements.
"It's important credit unions understand what effect 'Play or Pay' penalties have on them if they don't offer certain levels of coverage deemed affordable under health care reform," Bechtold said.

Most credit unions will continue offering health care coverage to employees even after the ACA is fully implemented, Pricer said. "How they offer that coverage will likely change," he added. "They might choose to fund it through a defined contribution approach, or purchase coverage through public or private exchanges."

Health care reform presents credit unions opportunities for potentially funding their health plan offerings, Pricer said. Credit unions may find this allows them to better plan health care costs year over year, while still remaining an employer of choice.

"Ultimately, the decision to offer health care coverage will be driven by affordability and whether it embraces the philosophy of being an employer of choice to recruit and retain the best available talent," Pricer said.

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