With hopes that we can no longer complain about winter weather or the good (and bad) of the Olympics, the one solid, consistently grumble-worthy thing we have to rely on is the Affordable Care Act. And as you’re likely discovering, the amount of paperwork you will eventually be responsible for handling to ensure compliance may be the source of headaches far worse than any errant Arctic air mass you could ever imagine.

As writer Bruce Shutan notes in his feature story, there’s practically no way for employers – as much as they’ve worked to keep abreast of the ever-changing rules and deadlines – to handle the brunt of the ACA compliance work without at least getting a consult from a benefits adviser.

It’s also an excellent time to seriously consider the value of partnerships in helping to outsource the cumbersome work of compliance – and to get your act in gear on setting up the technology to make that happen. Luckily, all of the major suppliers and administrators have worked to get a piece of the action, and there are lots of options available.

The result is a bit more attention on the growing reality that even small business owners are opting to outsource more and more of their HR functions, a trend that’s already become prevalent at larger companies. And that’s not such a bad thing, as TPAs can indeed be repositories of knowledge (and better capable of keeping up to date with all those on-the-fly changes) than even the most engaged and enthusiastic company HR professional.

We also have an overview of the big five issues looming on the compliance horizon, ranging from weighing out employer shared responsibility rules to the tricky territory of using defined contribution health plans as an alternative to a standalone plan (which some parties still say is a possibility, with a big asterisk behind it).

Whatever the case, it’s once again a good time to make sure that your game plan is assembled for the still uncertain days ahead. We wish you the best of luck.

Send letters, story ideas and queries to Editor-in-Chief Andy Stonehouse at andy.stonehouse@sourcemedia.com.

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