Helping your employees manage Obamacare

Jason Cannon

October 15, 2013

If you follow me on twitter, you’ll see how passionate I am about politics.

As in, not at all.

My twitter priorities are trucks, beer and sports – although second and third place occasionally jockey for position.

I rank politics somewhere between Miley Cyrus and steroid usage in Major League Baseball.

But politics has that special way of worming its way into your life no matter how hard you try to ignore it. Especially when it infects your wallet.

I am one of the millions of Americans who – at least to some degree – will be negatively impacted by the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare as most know it. My insurance premiums, which I have purchased from the same private source for most of my adult life, will nearly triple Jan. 1, 2014.

That’s my problem, and I’ll deal with it.

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But my problem isn’t unique. I got my “letter” last week. The letter basically said my disposable income was going to evaporate. I was angry and I was uncomfortable.

Right now, you have a building full of employees who probably feel the same way. It might not show, but beneath the surface they are likely churning. Sure, you pay them a fair wage. But many of them are about to lose a substantial portion of their “mad money” to higher insurance premiums, and they don’t even know why.

Tuesday, my congresswoman, Terri Sewell, arranged a town hall-type meeting on the Affordable Healthcare Act in my hometown, Demopolis, Ala. I stress arranged because she never actually showed up for it. But considering current governmental sentiment, that was probably a good thing.

I’m as anti-big government as the next guy, but let’s face it. Unless the Royal Family launches an impressive repossession effort, we’re stuck with what we’ve got. Our challenge is to make it work for us the best way possible, and belly-aching at the old-man-table at your local breakfast spot isn’t going to change anything.

Helping your employees navigate the waters of healthcare changes should be part of your business plan. Even if your company doesn’t offer health insurance, your people are worried and bad information is much easier to find than good information. If you do offer health insurance, odds are some of your employees still opt for private coverage and likely just got their “letter”.

Obamacare is going to help some people. It’s going to hurt others. Some it won’t impact at all. What you think about it will depend largely in which camp you find yourself.

You don’t have to offer insurance advice to help ease their minds and settle their stomachs. Just point them in the direction of better information than they’re likely getting.

First, advise them not to believe anything they hear from their friends and family. And I mean anything.

Secondly, don’t believe anything they read on Facebook. I can’t stress this enough.

The Affordable Healthcare Act has an army of people placed around each state whose job it is to help citizens navigate the ins and outs of the law. Aptly dubbed Navigators, here’s a list of agencies who can help.

These people act as consultants and are forbidden from advising you to purchase or make any kind of insurance changes. Their role is to answer questions and guide you to the conclusion that you’ve reached yourself. Many are available to speak to your organization. Contacting them for an in-house presentation for your employees could go a long way in easing insurance-related tensions. Even if your employees don’t get the answers they’re looking for, at least they got answers.

Enroll America is another such resource, but it isn’t supported by the government. So, if you’re the conspiracy theory type, here’s an independent route. They also offer webinars.

Both agencies have good information specific to your state, since not all states treat Obamacare the same way.

The mission of both organizations is to help and enroll qualified individuals, so if you’re looking for someone to bash the President with, this probably isn’t the route for you.

Not that I don’t love a good ole fashioned Obama-bashin’ session, consider this: Obamacare is here, and it’s our new reality.

And while it may change, it’s not likely to go away. We may as well figure out how to survive with it. We can bash it once we’ve crossed that bridge.

The presentation I attended lasted two hours, and while I still left with a sense of disgust and oppression, I did walk away feeling that I knew more than I did before. And I felt better about my ability to help myself.

I think your employees would find a similar benefit, and their productivity might as well.

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