As we explained last month, employers who want to use the “look-back measurement method” of full-time employee identification should be shopping for IT solutions. Here are four that we think deserve consideration. None requires bundling all HR, payroll and benefits functions. Instead, each pulls data from widely-used payroll and time management systems. Some integrate ACA compliance with other HR or benefit features, such as uploading or preparing 834 files for upload to insurers. All show how employees are trending in relation to ACA full-time eligibility rules; some also will pre-populate Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C. All block some user choices that would produce compliance errors. We especially like the fact that these vendors appear to appreciate their need for current, competent, continuing legal advice. We assume, as should you, that there are others equally worthy of your attention. If you find them, please tell us. For the present, here are four that we like, listed in alpha order, by URL.

What You Get . . .

  • Full disclosure: Arc Technologies, based in Ridgeland, Mississippi, is a Balch client. We believe that the ACA compliance module of its HRIS platform, “Eight,” would have made this list regardless. We especially like the automated audit trails and the default settings that favor eligibility unless authorized users make contrary designations in light of the data. Demos have gone well and existing “Eight” users have provided real world scenarios and suggestions during beta testing. Arc got its start solving data management problems for restaurant franchisees and has one of the better Form I-9 compliance modules that we have seen. The phone number is (601) 991-1160.
    Five Points, based in Franklin, Tennessee, offers a suite of HR and benefit administration solutions. Our web-based demo was hosted by presenters who seemed to have studied the underlying ACA rules especially well. We were most impressed with the graphics-based dashboard; it should be a valuable management tool. Five Points started by solving problems for schools and hospitals, so they should handle those benefit issues especially well. The toll-free line is (800) 435-5023.
    Houston-based Empyrean brings significant, large group enrollment administration expertise to this project. “SAFEHARBOR” is a variable hour employee eligibility tracker but Empyrean also offers interlocking IT solutions for enrollment and IRS reporting, plus support and enrollment services. However, bundling is not required; SAFEHARBOR is available separately. Our web-based demo was helpfully handled by people familiar with ACA issues. The toll-free number is (800) 934-1451.
  • Worxtime, from a unit of Visual Benefit Communications, Inc., Huntsville, AL, builds on the vendor’s decades of benefit administration and support services to a wide range of employers. Like Five Points, the graphics-based dashboard is very helpful. Unusually, some back office concerns are up front, such as alerts about possibly corrupt data files and utilities designed to facilitate data import from many payroll and attendance programs, in any field order. Mandated ACA reports are automated, but users may configure a wide range of other reports and e-mail alerts. Some critical reports are coupled with support center phone calls to designated managers, just in case alert e-mails are trapped in a spam filter. The toll-free number is (800) 374-8787.

What You Pay . . .

We built and culled our list based on expected functionality, including our assessment of the vendor’s capacity to improvise and optimize as this shakes out, relying mainly on the sort of web demonstration that the vendor would give a potential customer. We did not consider or even request pricing information. We suspect that increased competition and improving functionality will narrow any pricing gaps that may exist, but you should compare costs of all suitable systems.