Are your employees upset and confused about Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual marketplace headlines? In the past month they may have heard about large increases in ACA individual exchange premiums, health insurers pulling out of certain U.S. counties, reductions in mandatory coverage of contraceptives and, most recently, the government ending marketplace cost-sharing reduction payments, likely leading to even higher premiums in the ACA marketplace.
Do your workers think this directly affects their own employer-sponsored coverage? Put on your marketing hat, and use this as an opportunity to replace employee confusion about the ACA marketplace with a better understanding of and appreciation for health coverage you provide as an employee benefit.
An August 2017 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll found most people are unaware that ACA marketplace issues only affect those who purchase their own insurance.
KFF reported that benchmark premiums in the non-group health insurance market, which includes the ACA individual exchange market, increased 20% in 2017. KFF and the Health Research & Educational Trust found the total cost of employer-provided family coverage increased 3% on average in 2017.
Do your employees think the 20% increase applies to them?
Show employees that their premium rate increase this year is relatively small. Help them understand that as long as they are employed by you, they won’t need to worry about ACA marketplace instability because they get their health insurance through you as part of their employee benefits package.
Here are six tips, plus an example, for communicating the value of employer-sponsored health benefits.
- Emphasize the value of health plan coverage in a positive way.
- Calm fears by replacing confusion with knowledge.
- Put things simply.
- Make it too long.
- Use jargon.
- Patronize or talk down to your employees. Employees know health insurance isn’t a gift from the employer; it’s part of their compensation and benefits earned in exchange for their time and labor.
You can use this sample communication language as a starting point. Modify as needed for your organization.
At ABC Company, we don’t want our employees worrying about budget-breaking health care costs if something goes wrong. We also want our employees to be able to afford routine care like physicals, breast and colon cancer screenings, vision care and immunizations.
This year, the health insurance premium you pay increased by 3% to $____ per month. ABC Company pays the rest of your premium, which is $_____ each month.
Besides your monthly premium payments, the most you would have to pay in one year out of your own pocket for health care from doctors and health caregivers in your plan’s network is $_______.
Providing affordable health care coverage to our employees is a win-win situation. Armed with tools to take care of their health affordably, our employees win by easing health and money worries. ABC Company wins too, because healthier, happier employees tend to perform their jobs better than sick or stressed employees.
Take advantage of your ABC health care benefits. You worked for them.
Lois Gleason, CEBS
Manager, Reference/Research Services at the International Foundation