Big changes are coming to workers' health care plans, but a majority of those employees are unsure of how those modifications will affect them.
New research conducted by insurance provider Aflac has found that 69 percent of companies have not communicated changes in health care coverage to their employees, despite the approaching Oct. 1 deadline to do so.
Part of the reason for that delay may be that employers don't know how the changes will impact their workers. Just 9 percent of the surveyed companies said they are prepared to implement changes required by health care reform laws at this time.
"At the heart of this issue is the fact that many workers will be blindsided this open-enrollment season because we know they already struggle with understanding their insurance policies today, and in covering the high out-of-pocket costs from gaps in their current coverage," said Michael Zuna, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Aflac. "With little notice, education and coverage options to help guide and support them during this season, employers themselves may be at risk of a highly dissatisfied workforce."
Some companies are also leery of the changes resulting from the new law: 41 percent of respondents said health care changeswill create gaps in coverage, and 69 percent said they expect costs to rise as a result of health care reform.
In fact, most employees don't even understand the health insurance coverage they already have: 74 percent of workers said they are not familiar with all the details of their current coverage. Overall, nearly 40 percent of workers said they think it will be more difficult to understand what is covered after changes are made to health care laws.
Therefore, researchers suggest companies implement education programs to help inform employees of upcoming changes and ease workers' concerns.
"The good news is, there is an opportunity for employers who take a proactive role in helping employees effectively maneuver this new benefits landscape to make significant gains in worker satisfaction and retention levels," said Zuna. "Through aggressive education and communication efforts, as well as leveraging ancillary benefits options to offer workers additional options to close growing gaps in their insurance coverage, employers can help their workforce make the right benefits choices and protect their well-being."
The research was based on the responses of nearly 7,200 company decision makers and employees.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.