Communicating ACA Regulations Effectively
In some of my first blogs, I wrote about some of the characteristics of the Affordable Care Act. As I’ve continued working in the health insurance field, I’ve noticed that not everyone has received the same amount of training or communication from their supervisors regarding important regulations. Employees need specifics about the ACA and health benefits in general, especially during this confusing time. They should be taught exactly how the ACA will not only affect their jobs, but their own company benefits. In this blog, I will outline some tips for how to communicate healthcare reform to your employees.
One option is to do the bare minimum. While the government encouraged companies to provide written notice about new marketplaces, there is no requirement for employers to make sure this content is easy to understand and engaging for their employees. Even those without HR experience know that this bare-bones approach isn’t enough.
Another option is to turn to the old-school lunch seminars and piles of printouts to provide employees with additional information. This is a feasible approach and one that most businesses will turn to, but it has also been proved to have limited impact. How many employees truly understand their benefits when they’ve seen just a PowerPoint presentation or read a brochure? My eyes tend to glaze over as I read page upon page of PowerPoint slides or handouts.
My advice is to encourage a new school of thought. Many employees nationwide want to learn more about their benefits. Leaders should use this opportunity to educate and engage with workers through the channels in which they expect to receive information. Consumers have quickly become accustomed to accessing content on their smartphones, laptops and tablets. They expect important information to be tailored to them and easy to consume—like short-form videos they find on YouTube and Vimeo. Plugged-in consumers make for plugged-in employees; so companies have to reconsider their traditional communication approach.
Here are some tips for using health care reform as an opportunity to engage, educate and empower your staff:
- Don’t overwhelm with too much content. Because health care reform is multifaceted, HR teams understandably want to convey every last detail to employees. However, shorter bursts of information are much more digestible, particularly in a digital-driven world.
- Build a strong foundation. Crafting a powerful message around the ACA as it relates to your organization will outline for employees what information they actually need to know. Discuss your approach and, if possible, test it early on to see what resonates.
- Don’t leave it to government-driven communication. Workers are likely reading and hearing about health care reform from many sources. Mandated communications dictated by the government may cause more confusion if HR does not carefully deliver a message that is tailored to the organization. Make sure your employees are not in the dark by providing supplementary materials to mandated notices.
- Toss the textbooks. Don’t talk academically or politically about health care reform. Instead, use your organization’s voice, language and tone, and communicate in a style that your employees already know. Deliver high-level information on how the law will affect them in a format that will work for their job and lifestyle.
- Reach employees where they are. We live in a digital world where people are plugged into smartphones, tablets and computers all day long. Communicate with workers through the medium they are used to: information on a screen, with a variety of action, and a narrative. Consider making information easily accessible through an Internet or intranet connection, which works for people whether they are tuning in at the office or reviewing benefits packages with family members at home.
Healthcare reform has changed the benefits for millions of people. Leaders should know their employees and their needs better than the government does. Communicating about the ACA’s effect on benefits isn’t merely about delivering information required by the law; rather, it’s about empowering employees to make smarter decisions about their benefits and helping them to become better health care consumers. If you need more communication regarding the ACA, please encourage your leader to help you understand how the regulations affect you.