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Monday, September 27, 2010

Employers to address health reform’s effect in this year’s open enrollment materials

Now that health reform’s six-month anniversary has come and gone (and many provisions just took effect), you could be thinking that the hoopla over health reform might quiet down for a bit. Think again. For most companies, the health plan open enrollment season is rapidly approaching.

What will companies do in terms of talking about health reform in this year’s open enrollment materials? Good question and one that the folks at HighRoads, an employer health care compliance company, have just addressed in a new survey.

According to HighRoads, 75 percent of employers plan to address the effect of health-care reform in their open enrollment materials. In fact, 63 percent of respondents are creating new communication materials specifically for the communication of health-care reform. The companies responding represented communication practices for 1.5 million total employees.

“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,” said 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.”

Other survey highlights:
  • The biggest change expected in the next few years is updating summary plan descriptions (SPDs) for plan design and health-care reform changes, with 71 percent of respondents expecting to do so within the next year.

  • 71 percent of respondents—up from 65 percent last year—have no idea how much they spend to create, store and distribute SPDs to their participants.

For more information. For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.

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