Employers face a multitude of challenges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA fundamentally changes the landscape for employer sponsored health insurance, forcing businesses to understand, navigate, and adapt to a quickly changing, highly complex, and still uncertain marketplace for health benefits. To illustrate this, here are 10 pain points employers face in dealing with Obamacare:
1. Explaining ACA to Employees, Dependents, and Retirees:
Effective internal communications is a strong indicator of a firm’s financial performance. Indeed, internal communications is an essential ingredient for an engaged, productive workforce with low turnover. This is all the more important under the dynamics and complexities of the ACA.
Every employer must be prepared to explain the ACA. Like it or not, employees will look to their employer to explain the Affordable Care Act, even if the employer is not changing benefits. Employees have friends and family who will need help understanding Obamacare. The airwaves, mail boxes, and street corners will be packed with messaging from all angles and interests – some pro, some con, some partisan, some factually wrong, some even fraudulent, much of it confusing, and all of it mind numbingly complex.
This is an enormous new opportunity for employers to beef up their internal communications, demonstrate leadership, and support employees and their families. This will also serve to boost a company’s external reputation since the help and information provided to employees and retirees will be shared by them with a much wider audience – their parents, children, spouses, siblings, friends, and neighbors.
However, when communicating and educating, given the dynamics and contentious nature of Obamacare, employers must also take into consideration the political leanings of most employees and other key stakeholders, such as the board of directors and state and local leaders. This is not a factor in most employer benefit issues but the ACA is entirely different.
2. Making Tough Decisions on Coverage and Benefits:
While making tough decisions on benefits is nothing new for employers, the ACA presents a new set of decision points. Every business has their own starting point – what, if anything, they were already offering, who they were covering, and how much they were contributing financially to the cost of coverage.
For those employers that were not providing full-time workers with health coverage before, the ACA creates a new pay-or-play decision for those with more than 50 full-time workers. For every employer, the ACA creates a strong financial incentive to either drop coverage, dial-down employer contributions, or move to defined contribution.