If you’ve recently offered new health insurance benefits to employees or you wish to refresh them on the benefits that they already have, a well-structured, informative benefits meeting is necessary. Badly organized benefits meetings can be dull and boring, causing employees to tune out and miss important information. Ultimately, your business is paying for your employees to have these benefits, and you don’t want them to go to waste. After all, good use of preventive care and other health benefits helps keep your employees healthy and productive and improves your bottom line.
It’s Your Responsibility to Educate Your Employees
Under the Affordable Care Act, it is your responsibility to educate your employees about the health insurance benefits available. Employees have the right to have information regarding these benefits presented in a clear, easy-to-understand manner.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, you are required to provide certain documents to your employees, including an exchange notice requirement and a summary of benefits and coverage. According to the Department of Labor, the exchange notice is a document that informs your employees that the Health Insurance Marketplace exists. It spells out how they may choose to buy insurance there and may get a lower price depending on their situation, and that they may lose their employer contribution in that case. The exchange notice and the summary of benefits are provided through your benefits coordinator or health plan provider. While you aren’t required to hold a meeting to explain the documents, it’s a good way to ensure that employees take the time to understand what’s available to them.
What Your Employees Need to Know
Your insurance provider or broker may provide information to help you run the meeting and may come to the office to participate in the meeting. To begin planning, first understand what your employees need and want to know:
- Which benefits are covered by the health plan.
- How much the plan costs, and what percentages are paid by the employee and the employer.
- Information on licensure, certifications and accreditation status from the health insurer documenting its financial stability.
- How complaints and appeal decisions are handled between the company, the insurer and the health care provider.
- The cost of emergency-care services.
- The availability of medical care, including where to go and how referrals to specialists are handled.
- Which doctors, hospitals and centers are covered, and where employees can go for care.
- The price, quality and safety of these benefits compared to others available.
Educate Your Employees
Employees want to know how their plan affects their day-to-day lives. Take the time to go through the information so that they fully understand what they have access to. The following tips can help you educate employees on the very specific impact that their health care benefits will offer.
- Provide full documentation from the insurer. The health insurance benefits are outlined for you by the insurance provider, typically in pamphlets or booklets. Provide documentation to employees during the benefits meeting, and work through each section to discuss what it means. Allow questions, but try to set a specific time for them during the meeting.
- Outline the health network. Depending on the health plan selected, the health network may be a key component. With the help of the benefits administrator, present information on the health network, including which doctors, hospitals and medical facilities are considered in-network and how going out of the network for care affects costs. Discuss referral requirements and specialist visits, and make sure to discuss the fee structure for getting emergency care.
- Make preventive care a key focus. During the meeting, highlight preventive health care. Stress to employees the advantages of preventive care and which benefits are available at low or no cost. Discuss wellness checkups, fitness-center availability, screenings for certain conditions and available risk-assessment tools. These are services provided to the employee without charge, but many employees are unaware of what is covered. When they understand how these services benefit them in the long term, employees are more likely to make use of them.
- Answer questions thoroughly. At the end of the meeting, give employees a chance to ask questions both in a group and individually. This is where you need to fully provide your employees with time to interact and ask questions of you, the insurance representative and your human resources department. Understand that some employees will have questions that they don’t want to ask at work, so provide employees with websites and phone numbers to ask questions in private.
Ultimately, you want to present the features of the plan in an easy-to-understand manner. Your health plan coordinator should be there for hands-on help and to provide necessary documents. Once your employees understand their benefits, they can be on their way to a healthier, more productive life.
Sandy Baker is a full-time freelance writer specializing in health, personal finance and Internet marketing. Her long-term history online has included publications with companies including Marriott Hotels, The New York Times and dozens of other small and medium-sized businesses. She is also published in print with award-winning books such as The Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Complete Guide to Early Retirement, The Complete Bankruptcy Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses and The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care.