Health Care Reform: Open Enrollment – Are You Ready?

2010 marks the beginning of a series of Health Care Reform initiatives that will be implemented over time for the next eight to ten years. This year is predicted to be unprecedented in terms of employee turn out for their employer’s annual enrollment meeting. Are you ready? If your enrollment period is this fall, which is the case for most of us, start prepping now for your enrollment communications.

  • Employees want to understand what these changes mean and how it affects them and their family. This means you will want to be informed and have an expert you can call as soon as questions arise.
  • We recommend that employers begin working with their benefits broker and HR department now to determine how the new regulations affect specific insurance plans. Preparing now will reduce future headaches and will also reduce down time for employees as they won’t waste work time figuring out their benefits or worrying about what the changes mean to their specific situation.
  • Employees may be on different sides of the fence in terms of their feelings about health care reform. It’s best to stick to the facts and leave politics at the door.
  • Have a firm understanding of the known reform requirements through 2011 and general requirements past that time frame. Don’t try to summarize reform in its entirety at the start as many aspects are still being determined. It’s ok to say “we don’t know yet” but keep close tabs on when things are supposed to be decided by the government so you can keep employees informed in a timely manner. Keep tabs on employee’s concerns. Their uncertainty or fear can spur a lot of unnecessary worry, which could affect their productivity at work.

Some specific requirements coming into effect through 2011 (these are just a few examples):

  • Health insurance policies that provide dependent coverage must make coverage available for dependents up to age 26.
  • Pre-existing medical condition exclusions for new health plan enrollees will no longer be allowed in most cases.
  • Employers will be required to report health coverage costs on W-2’ s.
  • Health Flexible Spending Account funds will not be able to be used to pay for over-the-counter medications.

For information regarding changing requirements, we recommend working with your benefits broker and/or HR department.

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