Navigating the ACA Compliance Maze: What’s New for 2017

ACA Compliance MazeAs the first year requiring employers to meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards for health insurance and reporting, 2016 was a year of trial by fire for many employers. Tracking data, generating reports, and distributing forms in accordance with the law proved challenging, resulting in deadline extensions and leniency for good faith efforts.

Don’t count on that this year.


In 2017, employers will be held to the full requirements of the law, with no breaks for late submissions or missing/incomplete information. This year also includes some new tweaks employers should be aware of in order to remain compliant. 

What Are the 2017 Reporting Deadlines?

Since there will be no leniency this year for HRIS problems or incomplete data gathering, companies must develop reliable processes for 2017 deadlines now. Allow plenty of time for coding, testing, and even new software implementation if necessary so that you won’t be caught unprepared. Here are the essential deadlines you need to know:

  • January 31: Forms 1095-B and 1095-C—These forms must be distributed to employees and include proof of minimum essential coverage, social security numbers for the employee and any dependents, and the employee’s ID number.
  • February 28: Forms 1094-B and 1094-C (Paper)—Applicable large employers (ALEs) filing fewer than 250 returns may file by mail if desired.
  • March 31: Forms 1094-B and 1094-C (Electronic)—If filing 250 or more information returns, companies must file electronically.

What Changes Will We See in 2017?

In addition to the tightening up of reporting deadlines, 2017 brings a few additional tweaks to the requirements. These include:

  • The PACE Act—Passed in October of 2015, the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees (PACE) Act revises the definition of a small employer from the original cutoff of 100 employees or fewer to the new benchmark of fewer than 50 employees. The Pace Act also gives states the option to extend small employer status to 100 employees on a state-by-state basis. Employers need to know what the cutoff for their state is in order to file correctly.
  • Transition Relief Expires—In 2015, employers could take advantage of transition relief options such as shorter periods for determining ALE status, reductions or alterations in minimum essential coverage (MEC) requirements for non-calendar year plans, January pay periods, compliance percentages, and other extenuating circumstances. These relief options will not apply in 2017.
  • Grandfathered Plans Expire—Plans purchased before the ACA was signed into law on March 23, 2010 were considered grandfathered plans and were not initially required to meet all compliance regulations of the ACA. In 2017, these grandfathered plans will expire and all medical plans will be expected to meet full ACA compliance requirements.
  • No Leniency for Errors—In 2016, companies did not face penalties for missing or incomplete information. This year, no leniency will be extended and companies will face stiff fines for errors.

How Can A PEO Help?

ACA compliance is one of the greatest challenges facing businesses in 2017. Recent studies indicate that nearly 70% of small business employers consider compliance a top concern. As we face full implementation this year, companies need reliable processes to eliminate data errors and filing mistakes in order to avoid penalties.

Outsourcing your compliance needs to a PEO offers just such a solution. As the employer of record, the PEO assumes responsibility for ACA compliance and filing, and can also offer better insurance rates to small employers than they could get on their own in many cases.

Partnering with a PEO means removing the headaches associated with ACA reporting so you can get on with the business of running your company. Are you ready to make the switch?

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About the Author: Susan McClure is our resident content marketer at She writes about HR outsourcing, HRIS, and general employment issues. When she isn't writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids.