Letters and Opinion and Health Care Reform

Health care reform: Prepare for change

September 26, 2009

[In response to a Sept. 14 story on health insurance exchanges] With the uncertainty surrounding health care reform, only one thing seems definite: Some level of change is coming. In that light, employers have two options: Fret over the impact these changes might have on their businesses, or act now, meeting the needs of today while forging a plan for addressing a changed landscape.

The nation is too far along in the reform debate for things to remain as they are, but we believe key aspects of the current system will survive. Most people will continue to receive benefits and benefits information from employers, and employers will continue to play a key role in the provision, distribution and communication of benefits. And they’ll certainly continue to have a vested interest in employees’ health, since it’s so directly linked to productivity.

As we see it, employers face two challenges: managing through this period of uncertainty, and preparing for a changed benefits environment. They can do both by focusing on the practices that have served them well in the past: Emphasize thorough and practical benefits communication. Encourage employees to be better health care consumers. Focus on wellness and invest in prevention (each offers significant return on investment). Be sensitive to your work force’s demographics and benefit expectations. And “reform” your own policies to meet the new challenge, seeking innovative ways to communicate with employees and to encourage wellness and efficient benefits use.

Commit to these practices and you’ll not just survive the period of uncertainty; you’ll also be well-positioned for the future.

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Bryan K. Brenner,

CEO

Russ Stuart,

President

Benefit Associates/Benefit Consultant


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