The Future of Health Care Compliance: 3 Strategies to Stay Ahead

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Are you prepared for the future of health care compliance? With so many laws influencing HR management, especially those related to health care, changes in government regulations can feel overwhelming.

Here are three strategies your organization can employ to stay ahead.

1. Hire a Health Care Compliance Officer

With all the changes to employment laws, particularly the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) laws, consider hiring a health care compliance officer. The ACA is being implemented over the course of several years, which means regulations will change frequently. You'll need to decide if a full-time or contracted position is best. Similarly, if your budget doesn't allow for a designated health care compliance officer, consider working with a consultant. This person oversees your organization's compliance strategies while your current compliance team updates systems and communicates changes to employees.

2. Provide Education and Training

The best way to stay in step with the future of health care compliance is to hire an excellent staff and keep your entire HR team well educated. Because government regulation influences compensation, benefits, talent management and legal requirements, your whole department — as well as the payroll team — must be in the know.

You can keep your staff educated by maintaining a regular training schedule and investing in online learning courses. Reach out to your insurance broker and benefit providers to see if they can provide updates and help analyze your current practices for ACA compliance.

Also, informing management of potential compliance risks is your HR team's responsibility. They may not be aware that hiring practices and staff scheduling play a large role in whether your organization is following regulations and staying compliant. Having an informed management team mitigates the possibility of penalties. Additionally, one of your organization's most important documents is its employee handbook. Typically, this is where businesses include a copy of the EEO policy, so be sure to update it when any changes to regulations take place.

3. Implement a Sophisticated Payroll System

If your payroll technology is outdated, you could be at risk for an immediate compliance issue, never mind the risks that future changes represent. One of the largest adjustments for organizations stems from the ACA and how employers track their employees' hours. The number of employees (and their employment status of seasonal, full or part-time) is what will determine who is offered coverage. Keep in mind that IRS due dates for 2016 information reporting are several months earlier than the due dates for 2015 forms. Your payroll software needs to be sophisticated enough to track hours and classifications. It also needs a dynamic reporting function for manual analysis. Without it, your organization could be putting itself at risk for employee missclassification and face potential fines from the Department of Labor.

Confidently face the future of health care compliance by implementing these three strategies. Whether you hire an outside agency or create an internal audit team, your compliance needs will be aided greatly by a routine system of auditing policies and practices.