Thursday, August 29, 2013

5 Tips for Discussing Health Care Reform at Your Business

When a new change to federal law and how businesses operate makes national news, chances are your employees will be concerned about how it affects them. You may or may not have to change how you approach health insurance for your employees in light of the Affordable Care Act, but regardless, your employees are probably worried about how things will change, if things will change and what it means for them. The savvy business owner does what she can to understand the impact of the law on her business. Your plan for tackling these issues at your business consists of five simple steps.

1. Hire a Speaker

Contact a speakers bureau to book a professional speaker with expertise on health care reform and how businesses deal with insurance issues. Even if you have a fairly good idea of how the changes to law may influence your business, you’re probably not an expert on the subject. It helps to have an expert lecturer to deliver the message to your employees.

2. Provide Information

The actual documents put out by the government explaining the Affordable Care Act are tremendously long and confusing to those not familiar with legalese. Your employees don’t have to know everything about the Affordable Care Act, but it would help if they had access to a few key points explained in everyday language. Talk with your hired professional speaker about providing a print-out or a digitally distributed list of key bullet points every employee ought to know. Use the U.S. Small Business Administration information for additional help.

Don’t forget to look into how your specific state is handling the changes and point your employees to the necessary information about the affordable insurance exchange.

3. Explain the Changes

In addition to your bullet points highlighting the basic things to know about the changes to federal law, highlight any changes that will directly impact your employees, or if there won’t be any changes, explain why. With all of the information from a myriad of sources floating around, your employees need to know that they can zero in on the actual points that will matter to them. As their employer, you’re in the best position to provide an explanation of what will be happening at your individual business.

4. Offer a Timeline

If there are changes to come, include a timeline in your print-out or digital distribution of information. It helps employees to visualize the changes by organizing them by month and year. A calendar complete with deadlines highlighted — days on which employees need to provide information or their last days to switch insurers, for example — will prove especially helpful in making the transition as seamless as possible. Send out an additional reminder at least a week in advance of each deadline.

5. Invite a Discussion

As part of your professional speaker lecture on the topic, invite employees to pose questions and discuss concerns with the expert in a forum or debate held after the lecture. In addition to addressing questions and concerns the day of the lecture, keep your office and human resources representatives’ offices open for additional issues that arise. If possible, put up a forum on a locked employee-only website that allows for additional debate, FAQs and discussion about the changes (or lack of changes) to come. If employees feel like you’re listening to them and addressing their concerns, they’re less likely to become stressed out about the new laws.

Your employees need to know how health care reform will affect them, if at all, and your business is the only organization that can really address the issue with them, as it’s going to impact every business differently. Clear up the confusion and anxiety with your health care reform discussion plan. With the help of experts and an open forum for questions and concerns, worrying about the health care changes to come will become less of an issue, and your employees can better focus on their daily tasks.

About the Author: John Raines is a small-business owner in Iowa. He frequently relies on professional speakers to help address important issues, goals and changes that impact his business.

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