When it comes to health reform, it’s wishful thinking to expect employees to wade through reams of information and accurately distill it down. Let’s face it, all they want to know is what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) really means – the level of care they can get and how it will affect their wallets.
As most of us know by now, this year’s open enrollment will be unlike any other. To help you prepare, here are my top 10 tips to help guide you through your communication efforts with employees…
Tip #1: Don’t forget about the Notice to Inform Employees, which is a requirement from the Department of Labor.
- Every employee must be notified by 10/1/2013 that there’s a public marketplace, regardless of whether the employee is eligible for benefits, or is full- or part-time.
- The notice must be in writing (First Class Mail if you want it there in time), and can only be delivered by email if the employee uses a computer in the normal course of their job.
Tip #2: In your communications to employees, remember to describe the anticipated changes (if any) and the impact they will or will not have on employees and their families.
Tip #3: Everyone – from millennials to retirees – needs to hear the basics and learn how the ACA may impact them specifically. Each employee population has different needs and interests when it comes to health care, so try to cater to those characteristics the best you can.
Tip #4: Remind employees of any required features, such as preventive care, that you offer already.
Tip #5: Take credit for a portion of health-care costs you now pay and, if you can, what percentage you intend to cover in 2014.
Tip #6: Do the math for employees, if possible. Explain the concept of the marketplace and company-provided coverage.
Tip #7: Point out the pre-tax advantages for employer-provided coverage.
Tip #8: Direct employees to http://dol.gov/ebsa if they want to learn more. You can spend days trying to create customized communications but the government has already done that for you.
Tip #9: Don’t editorialize. This isn’t a soapbox to applaud or criticize ACA.
Tip #10: Finally, tell employees how you intend to keep them posted over the coming months. Then do it. Don’t go silent when they need you most.
My advice? Don’t wait to communicate or your employees may look for answers in all the wrong places. Try to strike the right balance and don’t try to provide TMI when just enough will do.
Guest blogger Julie Horner, owner of Ultraswayed, helps influence behaviors and drive business change through communication. Julie spent five years as the Senior Director of Benefits Communication at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., overseeing all health, wellness and retirement communication to 1.5 million U.S. And Puerto Rico associates. Prior to Wal-Mart, Julie was with Hewitt Associates / Atlanta for 12 years. Julie was a partner in a design/marketing firm for 11 years. Clients included Coca-Cola USA, IBM Corporation and Miller Brewing.