Career Advice: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Accounting and Finance Jobs

Many of the reporting requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) concern company and individual tax returns. As a result, professionals in accounting and finance jobs will need to gain a full understanding of those provisions as deadlines for the act’s Employer Mandate and Individual Mandate approach. Professionals in the medical billing field will also have additional responsibilities under the act.

The law was created to make it easier for U.S. citizens to obtain health insurance, and different provisions of the act are being rolled out gradually through 2018. Under the ACA’s Individual Mandate, taxpayers will be required to verify their healthcare coverage on their tax return; otherwise, they will have to pay a fine.

New tax information

If you are working in the accounting department of a small or large business, you may need to take additional steps to prepare tax documents for employees as a result of the Affordable Care Act. For example, the total cost of applicable employer-sponsored group health plan coverage has to be noted on employee W-2s. Major medical and domestic partner coverage included in gross income are two types of coverage that are taken into account under the Affordable Care Act.

The act also requires that information regarding the time and type of coverage, which is provided by both the employer and health insurance company, be noted on employee tax returns. Details that are required for each report depend on the size of the employer and the type of coverage offered, but they typically include name, address and tax identification number. There may also need to be information relating to the type and duration of coverage offered.

On the tax reporting side

Certified public accountants (CPAs) who are involved in the tax services industry will be dealing with the reports once the documents are in employees’ hands. Per the Affordable Care Act, the information contained in the reports will need to be entered on clients’ tax returns, which means you’ll need to know where each detail is to be noted.

Tax credits for small business

The ACA also offers tax credits for small businesses — those with fewer than 25 employees — that provide healthcare coverage for their employees. In 2014, the tax credit was increased to 50 percent. If you are the tax services professional for an eligible business, you can help the owners potentially save thousands of dollars on the coverage they provide by taking advantage of this credit.

Medical billing

Medical billing professionals at physician practices and hospitals will be expected to answer questions about patients' insurance now that the Affordable Care Act is taking effect. At minimum, their workloads can increase if the number of insured patients increases. Medical billing workers will also need to become familiar with changes to eligibility verification and precertification.

For additional career advice and in-depth information on the Affordable Care Act, you can view several resources — including the 2015 Salary Guide from Robert Half and a white paper and webinar on the act — from Robert Half.

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