What Education is Needed to Become an ACA Compliance Specialist?

An ACA compliance specialist is a career for health care professionals who are passionate about health care regulations and helping people access affordable health care. Below explains what education is generally needed to become an ACA compliance professional.

What is the ACA?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010 and is commonly referred to as “Obamacare.” The act is designed to make health care more affordable and available to American citizens. Major provisions include:

  • regulations that increase health care access
  • free preventative care for the public
  • eligibility extensions for employees and children

Health care organizations employ health care professionals with legal and administrative experience to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. ACA compliance professionals ensure that their organizations conform with the ACA regulations.

What are the Education Requirements?

Despite the fact that the ACA is a relatively new law, health care compliance professionals have been around for quite some time. They are generally referred to as compliance offers or coordinators. These positions do not require a specific degree, but instead require a degree related to:

  • health care auditing
  • management
  • administration

Therefore an ACA compliance specialist should pursue a degree similar to compliance offers or coordinators. They should also seek membership and certification through the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA).

What is the HCCA?

The HCCA is a member driven organization. It provides training, networking and certification resources and opportunities for health care compliance specialists. They partner with the Compliance Certification Board (CCB) to offer a variety of certifications, such as the Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC) and CHC Fellowship Professional (CHC-F) programs. The CHC is a basic certification designed to prove that entry-level compliance professionals:

  • understand federal regulations
  • understand legal obligations
  • possess the necessary compliance skills

On the other hand, the CHC-F is meant for senior compliance specialists who meet strict eligibility requirements. The CHC-F ensures the highest level of:

  • compliance credibility
  • knowledge
  • competency

Health Care Certifications

Although there are no specific degrees for health care compliance, there are many certificate programs available through universities on ACA compliance. Therefore, it is highly recommended that students attend a university certification program that is accredited by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB).These certification programs are designed for working health care professionals. They provide students with a comprehensive view of health care compliance. These programs will cover essential topics, such as:

  • health care laws
  • regulations
  • compliance methodologies

For example, there will be an extensive overview of health care compliance core elements. Students will also learn compliance strategies and techniques for program development and implementation. Coursework will be illustrated through in-depth case studies that emphasize the importance of:

  • legal conformity
  • due diligence
  • best management practices

At the end of the program, students will understand key ACA statutes and how to develop policies that enforce compliance.

Sample Job Education Requirements

Applicants will have a bachelor’s degree in a health care related field. They may also possess an associate’s degree with three to four years of health care compliance experience. They should have knowledge of state and federal laws regarding the:

  • ACA
  • IRS Section 125
  • employee benefits

Preferred qualifications include:

  • ACA Certification
  • HRIS experience
  • extensive knowledge of the Affordable Care Act.

Overall, the education requirements to become an ACA compliance professional are flexible and therefore employers are more accommodating. However, every ACA compliance specialist must have relevant job experience and an appropriate certification.

See also: The Ultimate Online Guide to the Affordable Care Act