What to Tell Your Employees About Healthcare Reform

Kris Dunn Benefits, Current Affairs, Employee Communications, Jen Benz

Welcome to a new day – healthcare reform in the U.S. is now the real deal. And regardless of your political viewpoints, as an HR pro, this impacts you and your employee population directly. So, what are you supposed to tell your employees about healthcare reform on this lovely Monday morning? FOT friend and occasional blogger over at Benefits Buzz, Jennifer Benz, has some advice for us:
Unless you somehow avoided all media exposure this weekend, you know
that the House of Representatives passed the Senate health care bill and
the reconciliation bill on Sunday. And, guess what, all of your
employees know it, too. For the past year, you’ve been conveniently
hiding out from employees, waiting for a decision from Congress, hoping
that you could go on making small talk about Nancy Pelosi’s suits. It
may be too soon to know all the implications of the new legislation, or
to have even had time to read the whole bill, but you can’t wait any
longer to say something to your employees.

But, but…but…? You don’t know exactly how this will impact your
plans, you don’t know exactly what this will mean for your wellness
strategy, you don’t know exactly what will happen to costs, you don’t…
Well, as we’ve said before, communication
is essential in uncertain times
and not
knowing all the answers is no excuse not to communicate.
You’re the
expert and you’re overwhelmed by the health care bill. If
you’re confused, just imagine how your employees feel. Remember, they care
about their benefits more than ever before
and they are looking to
you to help them understand their future.

Okay, so stop worrying about what you don’t know. There’s plenty
that you do know about your benefits and health care strategy.
And, we’ll help make it easy for you to get an update out to your
employees—today! Whether this is a blog post, an Intranet news article,
an update to your benefits website or an email from your VP of HR,
here’s the memo… you just plug in your info, edit a little bit and
you’re ready to go….

Health Reform and Your Benefits

As you know, the House of Representatives passed the Senate
health care bill and a reconciliation bill on Sunday [link to your
favorite news article from a reputable source like CNN or the New York
Times or Wall Street Journal
]. This bill has significant implications
for employers who offer health care benefits and the employees and
families covered by those plans.

We know you have a lot of questions and concerns about health
care reform and how the legislation will impact your benefits. We have
been closely following the health care reform legislation and the
implications for employer-sponsored health care and benefits. However,
since there were so many last-minute changes by the House this weekend
and because the Senate bill passed in December also had so many complex
provisions, it will take us some time to understand exactly what the
legislation means for us. Some things will take effect very quickly
after the bill is signed into law, but many of the major provisions will
not take effect for several years.

[If you normally talk about a benefits committee or other
governing body
] The benefits committee and our legal experts are
reviewing the legislation in detail to understand the bill and its

[If you normally talk about consultants or other outside
] We are working with our benefits consultants and legal advisers
to understand the bill and its implications.

We will get a complete update out to you as soon as we can, but
expect this to take up to X months. [Note: set realistic time
frames—your employees will hold you to it!]

[If your benefits strategy focuses on offering
competitive/at-market benefits
] Health care reform will not change our
commitment to competitive benefits that support your health and
wellness—today and in the future.

[If your benefits strategy focuses on wellness/productivity and
Great Place to Work
] Health care reform will not change our commitment
to be an employer of choice. We remain committed to your health and
wellness—today and in the future.

[If your benefits strategy focuses on consumerism/partnership
with employees
] Health care reform will not change our commitment to
being your partner in health. We remain committed to comprehensive
benefits as well as your active role in your health. We’ll continue to
partner with you to enable your success.

[Note: most benefits strategies are a combination of the
above. Revise this content to suit your plans and strategy for the

As always, now and in the future, your benefits require you to
be actively involved to get the most from our plans. While we evaluate
the legislation, please focus on what you can do today to get the most
from your plans. If you haven’t already, schedule your annual physical
and make sure you and your family are getting the preventive care exams
you need. Check out our wellness programs and other benefits like the
employee assistance plan that can help you today. [Edit the above
paragraph to focus on your under-used plans or your wellness objectives
for the year.]

Again, we hope to have more details to you in the next X
months. In the meantime, please send your questions to [insert email
] and for more information about your benefits, as always, see
[insert list of resources, ideally, your benefits

, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on employee
benefits communication. You can get more good advice and insight from Jen on the Benz Communications blog or by following her via Twitter @jenbenz.