While employees are worried health reform will boost coverage costs and increase taxes, employers fear they're not getting enough information from the federal government on what needs to be communicated to their workers.


These are a few conclusions from a post-enrollment survey by HR consulting firm HighRoads.


The biggest concerns human resources professionals and benefits managers are hearing from employees about how health care reform affects them include:

  • Increased cost of coverage: 50%
  • Cancellation of benefits: 13%
  • Government taxation of medical benefits: 13%
  • Ability to add adult dependents: 12%
  • No real concerns: 12%

While 88 percent of employers reported that they had increased their employee communications to address health care reform, many were still worried that the communications might not have been enough. The biggest communications concerns employers have around health care reform for the coming year include:

  • Lack of federal guidance on what the requirements are or how any changes in guidance during the year might change what has been communicated to employees (25 percent)
  • The disconnect on cost and existing plans, since the bill was sold on being cost neutral to tax payers and the assurance that employee would not lose the coverage they currently have (13 percent)
  • Making sure employees are told everything that is changing under their plans (13 percent) and
  • Employee understanding of changes and how the changes affect them (12 percent)

"There appears to be a healthy skepticism on the employer's part about the content and timing of guidance from the federal government on how to administer and communicate future plan changes," said Kim Buckey, practice lead, SPD Services, HighRoads. "While most employers increased their communications efforts during the fall open enrollment period to communicate changes required by health care reform, there are still doubts about how effective those communications were. There is clearly an opportunity to do some follow up communications–based on the actual employee elections during open enrollment–or employee sensing (surveys or focus groups) mid-year to determine whether employees truly understood the impact of the year's plan changes."

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