As Health Care Reform Moves Forward, Be Prepared for an Overload of Information


NEW YORK—If employers find that explaining benefits to their employees is challenging now, then they should brace themselves for fall enrollment when workers are expected to receive an avalanche of marketing materials from insurers, health insurance exchanges and government agencies in anticipation of health care reform, according to experts.

In addition to sifting through their own company's benefits plans, employees will also be getting marketing materials from private and state health care exchanges, insurance providers and others who are expected to start peddling their products to consumers as 2014 approaches, said Jennifer Benz, founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based consulting firm. Under the individual mandate of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all Americans will have to purchase health care insurance in 2014.

That means employees will have to not only understand their own company's benefits plan, but also will need to know enough about the other options available to them in order to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. And employees have never had to deal with so much benefits information at one time, experts say.

Companies and their Human Resources teams can expect to see a significant increase this Fall in the number of calls from employees seeking information. Few companies will be able to handle that kind of influx without an effective employee benefits communication plan.

In order to help employees understand how health care reform will affect their benefits, the global consulting firm Mercer is launching a microsite in April called “Health Care Reform Made Simple.” Employers will be able to offer the site to their workers once they have purchased a subscription.

As well, a growing number of companies like Trustnode Inc. in San Francisco and Jellyvision Lab Inc. in Chicago have developed interactive decision-making tools to help employees choose their benefits.

It is clear to most employers that their employees will need help, and companies will need to do a better job of communicating benefits. Both employers and employees alike can look to newly developed and emerging products to assist them with the new and highly complex changes they will face under the new Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act.

Hedley Lawson, Contributing Editor
Managing Partner
Aligned Growth Partners, LLC