Healthcare reform is obviously not what everyone wishes it could be. Everyone wishes costs were lower, for example. But that’s not to say it’s completely devoid of redeeming qualities.
Jennifer Benz, the CEO of Benz Communications, a consulting and marketing firm that specializes in employee benefits and health care, recently made a compelling argument in an article she penned for Forbes.com that the Affordable Care Act is helping employers in three major ways.
Granted, the law has it’s flaws and plenty of doubters. But Benz says there are three benefits to the law that can’t be disputed by employers (and after hearing her reasoning, we agree).
Here are the three ways Benz says Obamacare can help employers — if you allow it to:
1. Opens the door to total compensation conversation
Typically, all employees see is how much health insurance is costing them out of pocket. Rarely do they know what their coverage is costing their employers.
As a result, they feel like they’re getting a raw deal when they see their contributions increase year after year, and they likely don’t appreciate how much you’re shelling out for their coverage.
Obamacare has provided a golden opportunity to put all your cards on the table and let employees know how much you’re contributing to their insurance — and how much your contributions continue to increase as well.
Here’s a great way to get that message across: The average employee is set to receive a pay increase of roughly 3% this year. For most employees that’s barely enough for them to bat an eyelash. But the reality is, when you add in how much employer contributions toward their insurance has gone up, employees’ total compensation has actually increased by far more than that 3%.
Give employee the real figures. They’ll be more likely to appreciate what you’re providing.
2. Provides the chance to talk about their habits
With healthcare costs continuing to increase (for which many will blame reform), the release of your 2015 health plan information provides a great chance to explain the kinds of things employees can do to lower their cost of care and/or premiums.
For example: Are employees aware that visiting an urgent care center for non-life threatening injuries can save themselves a bundle in out-of-pocket costs compared to visiting an emergency room (not to mention the savings generated for your company-sponsored health plan).
Urgent care centers are popping up all over the place, yet many healthcare consumers are unaware of the purpose they serve or the services they offer. Their purpose is to provide another access point for care between primary care physicians and emergency rooms. They allow people to be treated on a walk-in basis for injuries or illnesses requiring immediate care that aren’t serious enough to require an emergency room visit.
Do you employees know where the nearest urgent care center is? Or is their first reaction to still go straight to the ER?
Other things worth bringing to employees’ attention:
- Do they know the importance of visiting an in-network healthcare provider versus one who is out-of-network?
- Do they know the benefits (both short term and long term) of participating your company’s wellness program?
- Do they know the benefits of contributing on a health savings account or flexible spending account?
3. Creates a point of differentiation
At the end of her article, Benz correctly points out that the Affordable Care Act has made health insurance a commodity — in that it’s now something everyone has access to. As a result, employees may no longer feel that their employer-sponsored plans are special.
But while it’s true employees can find “affordable” coverage in the health exchange marketplace, it’s likely to not nearly be the level of coverage they can get under your company-sponsored plan.
This has provided you with a chance to continue to differentiate your company with the competition — both competing health plans on the exchange and other employers offering company-sponsored plans.
What is it that sets your plan apart from exchange plans, as well as other employer plans?
Make sure employees know why your plan’s special.