As an employer of 50–99 employees, you are required to provide employer-sponsored health care options for your employees on or before January 1, 2016 to avoid paying penalties. Depending on what you currently offer, Affordable Care Act regulations may require you to change benefits that you provide to your employees, so having conversations with them now will help you as the 2016 deadline approaches.
It is important for you to communicate with your employees concerning certain relevant changes to their health care options brought about by the ACA. There are different ways to have an appropriate conversation with your employees that provides them with the information they need in order to understand the law as it relates to their specific situation. Here are some ways to communicate effectively with your employees, provide important information and address their questions in a helpful way.
Providing One-on-One Employee Communication
Situations may arise when you must communicate changes to your employee’s health care options. Some situations may lend themselves to a private, one-on-one conversation about the employee’s options. For example, your employee decides to drop offered coverage and shop for an individual plan or an employee without coverage from a spouse or parents opts not to purchase coverage because of cost.
In situations like these, your knowledge of the options available to your employees is key. Have a meaningful one-on-one conversation in order to probe further into their reasons for going outside of the coverage you are providing, but be wary of not overstepping personal boundaries. Always be sure to be respectful of any employee’s decision. In the end, your goal should be to help them understand what’s available to them. Explain how to determine eligibility for tax credits and other incentives designed to either keep them in your plan or provide them with the coverage they need to avoid any unnecessary penalties.
Communicating in a Group Setting
You may face a situation in which decisions that you make regarding the health care options you offer your employees significantly affect the group in its entirety. Such situations may include the following:
- Deciding to drop your employer-sponsored coverage and encouraging participation in a federal or state-run health benefit exchange
- Adopting a spousal or domestic partner surcharge
- Limiting employee FSA contributions, which may affect certain employees participating in such consumer-driven health plan options
Explain to your employees the reason behind these changes in a straightforward and up-front manner. You can control the message by delivering the reasons for the changes you have adopted and how these changes affect your employees, but be sure to allow your employees opportunities to ask questions. If they are uncomfortable asking questions in front of the group, offer them the chance to communicate in a private setting.
There are resources available to you that can help you with your messaging and position your perspective in a positive manner. When your employees understand why changes are coming, they can be better-informed health care consumers.