How To Communicate With Your Employees On The ACA
In an article written by the Houston Chronicle, Governor Rick Perry and other Texas officials have openly expressed their opposition to the ACA, stating they believe the health care law infringes on personal liberties, disrupts state sovereignty, and that they retain no interest in the promotion of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Perry’s stand on the ACA could explain why there might be a scarcity of information on the ACA in Texas, but alongside data from the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll in April; 42 percent of Americans are unaware the ACA is law. This statistic raises concern on the overall shortage of information provided on the ACA to the nation as a whole. Furthermore, it suggests that your employees are probably uninformed on what the Affordable Care Act is and how it could affect them. As their employer, you have the responsibility to communicate with your employees on health care reform and to keep them updated on any changes you plan on making to their coverage. This includes providing an understanding of how the ACA works, how it affects you and your employees, and how to best convey this information to them.
Regardless of your decision to offer insurance or not, the ultimate goal is to maintain a steady flow of communication between you and your employees throughout the health care reform transition. The sooner the communication between you and your employees begins the better. By Oct. 1, all companies are required to provide employees with information on available exchanges, possible subsidies, and a summary of benefits and coverage at open enrollment for 2014. Additionally, because there is much speculation of the possibility of employers dropping coverage in 2014, you should address this issue as well, and be clear about your specific plans for the new year.
Before you communicate possible changes to your health care, be sure to have a strategic plan on how to effectively relay these changes. Know exactly what you are changing and how it will affect your employees. In the case you have decided not to offer coverage to your full-time employees, it is advised to inform them as soon as possible. You don’t want the news to be a complete surprise. You should give them enough time in advance to figure out their options. Alternatively, if you are planning to offer your full-time employees coverage, you may want to take this opportunity to remind them of their value and that offering coverage is an investment you are happy to make. Despite your decision, you need to construct a method to reach out to your employees by utilizing a variety of tools to deliver the information. You can accomplish this by teaming with your HR department to compose newsletters, emails, or host informational sessions on related topics your employees may not know. In addition, you may want to make sure your employees are knowledgeable of ACA terminology. For instance, provide them with definitions on subsidies, exchanges, essential health benefits, etc. The more you educate your employees on health care the easier their adjustment to any changes you make will be.
Lastly, you should be ready for your employees to have questions about the information you have provided to them. You should be prepared for these questions, but you may not necessarily have all the answers. This is where we come in. We know all about the ACA and we can advise you as you begin to develop communication with your employees. Give us a call. The sooner you start communicating with your employees the less time they will remain in the dark.
Mario K. Castillo