Healthcare Reform Spans the Health-Wealth Universe
JULY 31, 2012:
Judy Matysik, Vice President of Client Services, Content & Design
Now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been upheld by the Supreme Court, many marketers are wondering what comes next. The answer: an even more compelling need to communicate.
Financial Institutions Lead the Way
Insurance companies, employee benefits consultants, banks and credit unions that offer businesses financial services have been focusing on healthcare reform since it was introduced. Despite the ever-present possibility of being overturned prior to the ruling, certain provisions in the healthcare reform act affected employers almost immediately. Financial institutions have been communicating with their business customers about:
Distributing a Summary of Benefits and Coverage to employees.
Reporting the value of healthcare benefits on W-2 forms (effective in 2012).
Considering whether they meet eligibility criteria to be eligible for a tax credit for providing health insurance to employees.
Capping health flexible spending account contributions at $2,500 for 2013.
Thinking about how they would provide affordable coverage to all full-time-equivalent employees by 2014 or face a penalty.
Looking at their high-cost (“Cadillac”) health plans with an eye toward modifying before 2018 or paying an excise tax.
There will be even more decisions to make, such as deciding whether to reduce employees’ hours below the 30-hour threshold that defines full-time in PPACA, or provide employees with a stipend to buy their own health insurance. The increased emphasis on wellness also means there may be federal grants available to small businesses that provide workplace wellness programs.
Hospitals and Payors at the Ready
On the healthcare delivery side, there are plenty of provisions that will have an impact on hospitals, health plans and insurance carriers. Nonprofit hospitals will need to start completing a community needs assessment every three years. For all hospitals, Medicare reimbursement rates will be tied to the quality of care and patient satisfaction surveys. There will be a major focus on preventive services, tobacco cessation and obesity.
Payors will need to be alert to the possibility that some small employers may decide to opt out of the healthcare insurance arena altogether and simply offer their employees money toward buying their own insurance. So how they communicate with their small business customers will be key in the coming months and years. In addition, they need to prepare for price transparency and find ways to better communicate with consumers, perhaps even using social media to promote their brand.
Nonprofit hospitals should be thinking about how to benchmark their community needs assessments.
Hospitals and health plans that expect to form accountable care organizations (ACOs) need to consider creating a unique brand. They may also want to step up preventive healthcare education for patients, members and customers.
Whether all or part of healthcare reform survives intact over the next several years, the need to communicate with your audience is clear. With all the touchpoints and opportunities (and potential pitfalls), you might want to be considering where you could use outside resources. This month, we’re offering a free healthcare reform article to both our health and wealth audiences. Don’t miss out on this or great offers in the future; sign up for INSPIRE today!