Navigating Health Care Reform: What Are You Telling YOUR Employees?

I was absolutely thrilled with the turnout at a webinar I recently presented for Human Resource Executive: “Navigating the changes: strategically communicating about health care reform.” Over 2,300 people registered and over 1,500 listened in.

We focused on how to use communication to turn health care reform from a messy set of new requirements into a strategic opportunity to engage employees and families in their health — a topic we’ve been discussing on our blog since health care reform passed.

I have including the full presentation below which includes strategy and planning checklists as well as next steps for open enrollment/compliance communication:

  • Get an update out now (if you haven’t already) linking to philosophy.
  • Be real about costs and “what’s changing.”
  • Determine your approach for the model notices (with your legal team!)
  • Plan for ongoing communication.

Please check out all the details in the presentation.

Three questions about health care communications

We asked three questions about health care reform communication during the presentation and the answers are pretty interesting.

1. Have you communicated with employees about health care reform?

  • 54% – No, we haven’t said anything
  • 30% – Yes, between April and now
  • 8% – Yes, immediately after
  • 7% – Yes, before the legislation

This is not surprising, even though we’ve been encouraging companies to communicate since health care reform was initially passed. If you haven’t said anything yet, now is the time!

2. How are you planning to deliver the required notifications?

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  • 50% – Combination of print materials and electronically
  • 22% – In print materials
  • 16% – Don’t know yet
  • 12% – Electronically

These answers are not surprising to me and we’ve been seeing a lot of different approaches for delivering the required notices.

3. What are your primary objectives for health care communication? (select up to 3)

  • 63% – Educating employees about enrollment
  • 54% – Meeting legal/compliance requirements
  • 53% – Showing the value of our plans and costs to the company
  • 49% – Helping employees be good health care consumers
  • 23% – Increasing participation in wellness programs
  • 20% – Migrating employees to more cost-effective plans

These responses really show the challenge of health care communication — meeting legal requirements and guiding employees through enrollment while also tackling strategic challenges like showing the value of programs and helping people be better consumers of their health care.

With legislation of this size, there will always be questions and concerns. If I haven’t answered yours, I invite you to look through the presentation below. Or, check out all of our posts on health care reform.

Jennifer Benz is Chief Strategist and Founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based consultancy that focuses on custom, comprehensive benefits and HR communications services. Jen is an active member of the Council for Communication Management, the International Association of Business Communicators, the Northern California Human Resources Association and Women in Consulting. Contact her at


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