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Jennifer Benz March 21, 2010 4 min read

What to tell your employees about health reform

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.

Ok, 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, a 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 implications.

[If you normally talk about consultants or other outside experts] 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 year.]

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 address] and for more information about your benefits, as always, see [insert list of resources, ideally, your benefits website .]

Please let us know if you use the memo and if you have any other suggestions. We’d also love to hear what your employees are asking about health care reform—and we’ll happily help you answer their questions.

Jennifer Benz

Jennifer Benz, SVP Communications Leader, has been on the leading edge of employee benefits for more than 20 years and is an influential voice in the employee benefits industry.