Open enrollment is done, New Year’s
exercise and diet plans are going strong, or have been abandoned, and the fate
of healthcare reform is uncertain. The year ahead looks like a blur of benefits
fog so you can just wait and see what unfolds.
Take a proactive approach to
reinforce the value of the benefits you already provide and help identify
future offerings. If healthcare reform is enacted any time in 2010 the impact
on your current plans is likely to be minimal. Any transition will be easier
when you and your employees have a greater understanding of the plans you
already have. Create a monthly, or at least quarterly, plan of communications
Here’s a Prescription
Start the year off with a review of
your prescription drug benefit. Many prescription plans have a deductible that kicks
in with the new plan year. If your plan’s is $50 per person remind employees
before they go to the pharmacy and face the sticker shock of paying $48 for the
drug that only cost them a $25 co-pay in December.
Prescription plan formularies are
the next topic to tackle. Whether your plan has 2, 3 or 4 tiers explain how
drugs are divided. Your pharmacy benefits provider is likely to have a
readymade handout describing the difference between a generic and brand name within
Speaking of generics, communicate to
employees the best way to ask their doctor, “Is there a generic for this
prescription?” While they are asking about these it’s a good time to find out
if there are mail order options for maintenance drugs. These save lots of
money. Provide an example of the comparison cost savings, employees may have
missed these in open enrollment packets.
Life Cycle Events
Valentine’s Day engagements lead to
weddings and the potential of new dependents. Create a clear picture of the
required communications for life cycle events. Marriage, birth of a child and
divorce all require notification to the employer and plan providers. A one page
step by step guide for each can be very helpful.
Check with carriers for all
requirements. For example don’t assume that a newborn cannot be enrolled in a
dental plan only to find out when they are a two year old with a toothache they
have to wait for open enrollment.
Make March Meaningful
In March highlight the preventative
care covered by your plans that do not cost employees any out of pocket
dollars. The list is likely to include children’s check-ups, mammograms, dental
check-ups and cleanings among other important items.
A flyer that announces, “Have you
made an appointment for your free…?” may spur an employee to take a life saving
The Rest of the Year
These are just a few of the ideas
for the first quarter of 2010. I have many more and will be back with them. Any
communication will add value and employee satisfaction. What information will
you be passing along?