In Woburn, Mass.-based HighRoads' annual survey of Fortune 1,000 companies, which evaluates current and future summary plan description plans and processes, it was found that 75 percent of employers plan to address the impact of health care reform in their open enrollment materials.

"The changes demanded by the health care reform act and other recent legislation, such as mental health parity and FMLA, require employers of all sizes to make changes to their plans and to communicate these changes to plan participants in a timely manner," says Kim Buckey, practice lead, ERISA Communications, HighRoads. "While open enrollment materials and other short-term communication vehicles can meet the immediate need, it's critical that employees and their families have an up-to-date, comprehensive guide to using their benefits."

Though most agree summary plan descriptions are important compliance documents, the HighRoads survey shows the most popular summary plan description practices varied. Sixty-three percent of respondents are creating new communication materials specifically for health care reform while 89 percent of respondents still see their summary plan descriptions as both compliance and communication documents.

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