PRSA Health Academy/ACA Learning Opportunities

It was a pleasure to be a part of PRSA-LA’s July program titled “Healthcare Reform’s Impact on Healthcare PR: Opportunities, Challenges and Best Practices.” The panel delivered a healthy dose of timely information for anyone working in healthcare PR, as major provisions of the Federal Affordable Care Act begin to take effect. Turnout was terrific, more than 85 PR practitioners made their way to our host’s headquarters, the California Endowment, and a lively discussion followed. The panelists included: Matthew Holt, Co-Chairman, Health 2.0; Founder, The Healthcare Blog (@boltyboy); Holly Potter, VP of Brand Communication, Kaiser Permanente (@htpotter); Jill Dosik, President, GCI Health (@GCIHealth); and Gwendolyn Driscoll, Director of Communications, UCLA Center for Health Policy. PRSA LA used the Twitter Storify feature to capture some of the insights:

Over the last few months, research has shown that many people in the U.S. don’t understand what health care reform is or what the ACA means to them.

A large number of people surveyed think that health care reform have the misconception that it means that everyone in the U.S. gets free health care coverage and coverage is automatic — that people don’t have to do anything.

Clearly this is an area where we as healthcare public relations professionals can make a difference. But Obamacare not only presents a historic opportunity for healthcare PR, it also brings the practice of employee communications to the forefront. The recent delay of the employer shared responsibility provisions of the ACA has created even more confusion—and a greater need for our counsel.

By late June, many employers were busy developing or even implementing their health care/ workforce strategy, which they had no doubt designed to address the employer shared responsibility provisions. Many of these strategies were designed for the long term, with the excise tax in mind, and represented change for the entire organization.
With the Obama Administration’s July 2 announcement to delay the ACA’s employer shared responsibility provisions, a number of employers began rethinking their strategies and evaluating whether to move forward with them for 2014 or delay some or a portion of them until 2015.

For employers who hadn’t yet decided what to do, the path was actually made simpler.
Even so, the timeline for the individual mandate and the launch of the new health insurance marketplaces, as well as the distribution of the exchange notice to employees, remains unchanged.

One of the most important messages employers need to communicate to their employees is that virtually everyone in the U.S. must purchase or have health insurance by January 1, 2014 or pay a penalty. This is called the individual mandate. And, employees must meet the individual mandate whether or not their employer offers medical coverage that meets the ACA’s requirements for minimum value and affordability.

And, of course, for millions of us already covered, open enrollment 2014 is just around the corner.

To help you navigate through health care reform and your upcoming Open Enrollment period, PRSA Health Academy is collaborating with the Employee Communications Section on an August 20th Teleseminar titled “Communicating Health Care Reform: Get Up to Speed on the Basics.”

In this panel discussion, you will:
• Find out about the communications requirements of Health Care Reform.
• Hear from a national expert and a large multi-state employer about best practices that can help you turn this communications challenge into an engagement opportunity.
• Learn how to emphasize the value of your company’s medical benefits and engage employees in meaningful discussions about their health care choices.

The presenters include, former Health Academy Chair, Nancy Hughes, APR, vice president, communications and marketing, National Health Council, Donna Jaffee, principal, workforce communication and change business, Mercer, and Cynara Charles-Pierre, director of crewmember communications, JetBlue Airways, to bring a large employers’ perspective.

The teleseminar is free to PRSA Health Academy and Employee Communications Section members. To take advantage of this great opportunity, register here: