Best practice communications – communicating health benefits year-round: Part 1

Open enrollment communications used to happen annually. Not any longer. Changes to health care have turned benefits communications into year-round campaigns with heavy education and training components.

In addition to health benefits enrollment communications that traditionally happen between September and November, there are now good reasons to plan separate but related campaigns in December/January, in March/April, and in May/June.

If you are thinking that this year’s Open Enrollment will be business as usual, consider the following and ask if you could use a more sustained approach to communicating health benefits:

In-network status is much more complicated:

  • Large insurers are attempting mergers and acquisitions on national scales, which has the potential to change the terms and conditions of coverage. Some insurers are inclined to minimize those differences. Be prepared to supplement their marketing materials with more detailed information.
  • Employers are increasingly choosing select network offerings that put some local and regional hospitals and pharmacies out of network. In turn, hospitals and practices are being acquired and merged at an increasing rate. This activity can shift the in-network status of care facilities overnight.
  • Other programs such as the BlueCross BlueShield Associations’ Blue Distinction designations can create tiered definitions that blur in-network and out-of-network status. Make the information available during Open Enrollment, but a separate educational campaign is worth considering for December or January.

 More to come. Check in for Part 2.

 Open Enrollment and benefits are bringing a lot of change to employees. If you are interested in learning more about change that sticks, register for the IABC Heritage Region Annual Conference in October and stop by my presentation with Megan Hogan on Behavior Change that Sticks. Or visit Soteres Consulting for more on how we help organizations communicate change to employees.

Kip SoteresKip Soteres
Change Communications Expert: Internal, Executive,
Employee, HR Communications