Healthcare Reform Caused a Shift in Employee Benefits Management

12 May

HR professionals may now be tasked with additional employee benefits management responsibilities.

The Affordable Care Act changed many things – employee benefits management being one of them. According to a new report from The Prudential Insurance Companies of America, healthcare reform caused employers to make numerous adjustments to their employee benefits. While some may think the ACA has had damaging effects on worker benefits, the report found employees started taking on a greater role in the benefits selection process after the ACA went into effect and began feeling more satisfied with their benefits.

Ongoing Effects of the ACA
The ACA's affect on human resource planning is considerable, and a recent article in Human Resource Executive (HRE) Online suggested healthcare reform continues to make an impact in human resources. The ACA's influence on HR departments' management of employee benefits goes beyond simply providing workers with ACA-compliant health insurance. According to the HRE Online article, educating employees about changes to their benefits, helping them find high-quality healthcare and answering their questions about providers is now starting to fall on HR professionals' shoulders. 

"I've found the lines between our traditional employee benefits and our wellness initiatives are blurring," Janet McNichol, HR director at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, said in an interview with HRE Online. "In large-employer settings, it seems as though distinct areas with different staff run individual efforts. At ASHA, I'm involved in it all."

HR professionals are now tasked with fielding employees' benefits questions that these professionals may not have prepared for. It can be beneficial for HR representatives to hold group meetings with employees or have one-on-one meetings with each worker so staff have a forum to ask any questions they may have. According to the Prudential study, group meetings are the most successful type of benefits communication. However, one-on-one meetings and email correspondence were also found to help employees understand their benefits. HR professionals need to know which questions workers may ask beforehand; however, and it may take some work for HR representatives to gain this knowledge.

HRE Online suggested HR professionals partner with their colleagues, either through informational interviews or at conferences, to understand how their peers are handling this increase in employee benefits management responsibility. Working with their health insurance carrier about aspects of the employer-sponsored plan can also help HR professionals receive the answers they need to inform workers. HR representatives may find that the company will need to continue changing its health insurance plan to adopt to employee needs under the ACA.

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