Workers Are in the Dark About Upcoming Plan Changes

inthedarkThe October 1 deadline is looming for employers to notify workers of their coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, 69% of workers say their employers haven’t informed them of upcoming changes to their benefits. Michael Zuna, Aflac’s executive vice president said, “Many workers will be blindsided this open enrollment season because…they already struggle with understanding their insurance policies and covering the high out-of-pocket costs from gaps in their current coverage. Over the next few months, these challenges will be exacerbated as employees may be more confused by changes in their policies, and face greater gaps in their health insurance coverage leaving them at risk. With little notice, education, and coverage options to help guide and support them during this season, employers could face a highly dissatisfied workforce.”

Only 9% of employers say they are very prepared to implement required changes to their business based on the health care reform law. Forty-one percent of employers expect health reform to lead to more gaps in coverage and 69% say employees’ costs will increase as a result of health care reform.

Zuna said that employers should provide aggressive education and offer ancillary benefit options to close gaps in workers’ coverage. Zuna said that employers should take advantage of resources to help employees understand their coverage, including visits from an insurance agent or broker. In fact, employers named insurance companies as the most helpful source of information they have received on the health care law.

With many companies facing the decision to limit or decrease employer-paid benefits, providing voluntary benefits can help workers close the gaps in their coverage, at no additional cost to the company, said Zuna. He suggests that employers do the following:
• Mail benefit materials to employees’ homes so they can discuss their options with their family.
• Host a town hall meeting with a benefit advisor to discuss changes and answer questions that apply to the group. Encourage one-on-one meetings with employees who have more questions.
• Conduct webinars to reach all employees regardless of location.
• Post FAQs in high-traffic areas, such as employee break rooms, cafeterias, and bathrooms. Aflac is offering guidance at aflac.com/healthcare_reform.

Last Updated 11/25/2020

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