Forming New Habits via Year-round ACA Data Gathering

Over time, there have been countless studies performed to answer the elusive question, “How long does it take to form a new habit?” Depending on your source or study, the number of days range from 21 to 240. That’s quite a spread, but certainly habits can be formed out of repetitive behavior and sometimes they are brought to light because a traumatic experience causes someone to modify, avoid, and/or repeat a specific behavior. In our industry, we would like to go on record as suggesting – hoping, actually – that the traumatic experiences of year 1 ACA Reporting (not to mention the fact that the 240th day of the year was this past Sunday!) will have identified a need to change behavior and create a new habit. The habit of which we speak is the need to invest time throughout the year to make ACA Reporting a simpler process each January. Last year, it was a mad scramble for clients to pull together disparate reports, data, and information in an attempt to feed their selected provider the requested information to calculate codes or to produce the forms themselves. The end result was a great deal of lost sleep and, unfortunately, migraine headaches. Based on the experiences of last year and our desire to form new habits, we are strongly encouraging our agency partners to get in front of last year’s challenges and work with their clients to ensure that data is being either tracked or gathered throughout 2016. As noted in this MJ Blog post a few months ago, the #1 challenge clients and vendors had with creating their 2015 ACA forms centered on data – bad data, not timely data, too much data requested, no way to access the data, etc. The approach your clients should be taking in 2016 will vary based on the path/vendor that they have chosen to produce ACA forms. • If your clients are using a Do-It-Yourself tool, they should be working to populate the data templates now and adjusting as adds, terms, changes happen throughout the rest of the year. This way, at the end of the year, they will be ready to upload the data to the DIY tool. • If your clients are providing data to a stand-alone/3rd party vendor to produce the ACA forms, they should be working with that vendor now to ensure that all the data elements are being successfully sent to them on an ongoing basis. If the vendor only requires a year-end file, we encourage the vendor and client to be working through the data details now vs in January. • If your clients are leveraging an existing payroll or benefits administration vendor to produce the ACA forms, we encourage your client to set up a meeting now to review their system to ensure they are capturing the appropriate data elements and/or ensuring that everyone is clear about the process that will be used in producing these forms. Another reason that we are encouraging clients to make a habit of managing ACA data throughout the year is because we will all have significantly less time in 2017 to produce the 2016 forms – 31 days to be exact – as forms must be mailed to employees by January 31, 2017. If the aforementioned steps are not taken in the next few months, we are concerned that the answer to the question, “how long does it take for someone to lose their mind?” will be 31 days – and you’ll be able to count them down next January 2017!

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