The election is over and universal health care is on the way. It seems to be a universal moniker for changes to our current system, but a precise definition of the term UHC eludes us. To some, UHC means a single payer, government run system. To others it means mandates for people to purchase insurance, a “play or pay” system. Still others assume it means the marginal expansion of current government programs to cover the working poor and children. The terms ‘connectors’ and ‘exchanges’ are being used. As the legislative process becomes focused on the health care issue over the next year we will develop a better idea of exactly what UHC will be. Until then we can be better prepared for whatever changes are to come by revisiting two of the common principles of human resource management: strategy and communication.

Most indications are that the employer-based system of providing health care will be retained and strengthened. This means that responsibility for communications regarding changes to group plans will be the responsibility of the employer. This may be a tremendous responsibility. It is likely the changes will be on-going for several years and HR departments across the country will need to communicate the benefits, changes, costs and access instructions to all employees on a recurrent basis.

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