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Coronavirus and Your Company’s Health Benefits

COVID-19 is on everyone’s minds right now. The growing 2020 coronavirus pandemic is affecting business, travel, the economy and making us wonder about our preparedness as a nation. The number of countries affected, the number of confirmed cases, the number of deaths… as the story rolls on, the only number that really matters for people is one. (1). Do I have a case of COVID-19? This is no different for your employees and their family members who use the healthcare benefits you offer as an employer.

On top of the annual cold and flu season, COVID-19 will cause a run on the time and resources of our health system. Combine heightened emotion with the need for testing and possible emergency care and we have a situation where people may begin making mistakes about their healthcare needs and choices. These may be expensive and unnecessary choices. There hasn’t been a time in recent memory when your employees need to more fully understand their health care benefits. Reviewing healthcare benefits before you need them helps employees plan and make better decisions. Facing a possible pandemic, planning ahead and good decision-making could be the difference between managing the crisis and experiencing unnecessary suffering, inconvenience, and spending.

Encouraging employees to review their benefits for primary and emergency care, sick time and personal time off will help them better manage the situation if they or their family is struck by the coronavirus. Additionally, encourage timely feedback from your workforce on how your healthcare benefits performed for employees in this heightened healthcare situation. Doing so could reveal a critical lack of engagement with or misunderstanding of their healthcare benefits. In a crisis, communications like this can defuse emotional situations and lead to better planning and management of a potentially extreme situation.

Like all other epidemics, COVID-19 will pass sooner or later. For HR managers and business leaders, consider your company’s experience managing COVID-19 as a rehearsal for the next epidemic or pandemic. What can be done as an organization to respond quickly at the outset of a similar crisis? What can you do as an organization to identify the best point to act to reinforce understanding of benefits? Do you have a plan for epidemic or pandemic communications?

Many companies reap the benefits of a global economy and the modern inter-connected world. One of the effects of this degree of interconnectivity is the threat of a global pandemic. As we are learning on the macro-level, we must be vigilant, have a plan of action and minimize the inevitable. On the employer level, we must do the same to protect our teams and help them make good decisions in navigating a possible crisis. COVID-19 is reminding us that we’re all in this together, so let’s help the ones we know use the resources they have the best to make it through the crisis.