Communicating ICHRA to Employees Effectively

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Table of Contents


Too many HR managers and business owners share the sad sentiment that their teams don’t appreciate how much they spend for their healthcare and benefits. To them, it seems that employees will be disappointed regardless of how much they’re paying for this plan.

ICHRA - personalized healthcare - offers an unparalleled opportunity to make your employees feel valued while helping you cut costs. Like any major change, employee engagement and education is key to ensuring employees feel empowered and appreciative of the shift. In this blog post, we’ll cover the How and What of effective ICHRA communication. 

<blog-icon-title>How to Communicate about ICHRA<blog-icon-title>

  1. Create a plan: Don’t wing it. Think in advance of Open Enrollment Period and plan for specific messages to go out on specific dates. Count back from the target enrollment start-date, mark your calendar for when different items should go out (notices, emails, webinars, etc), and leave enough buffer and room for extra communication. 
  2. Use multiple channels: Think about where and how employees want to receive information. Use email, recorded videos, live webinars, FAQ pages, face-to-face conversations and any other formats you think will help relay your message properly.
  3. Pay attention to regulations: Remember that ICHRA (like any other health benefits topic) has regulatory requirements around communication. For example, the ICHRA 90-day notice is mandatory, so be sure to include it in your plan.

<blog-icon-title>What to Communicate about ICHRA<blog-icon-title>

Explain things in simple and positive language: Avoid jargon and explain things clearly and concisely. For example, instead of mentioning “ICHRA” and “qualifying expenses” or “we’re getting rid of your current healthcare”, you could say: 

"This year, we’re going to approach healthcare a bit differently by giving each of you a ‘healthcare allowance’ to pay for the health insurance policy that you choose for your own needs. If you have money left over, you can use it to pay for things like doctor visits or prescription medications.” 

This helps explain what is happening, how it works, and why it’s in their interest without causing havoc or confusion.

  • Choice: Employees can now choose the health insurance plan that best meets their needs and budget. 
  • Flexibility: Employees can switch plans year-to-year if their needs change, and they may be able to cover different family members with different policies. For example, they can use ICHRA to cover themselves with an individual plan and a dependent child in college with the school’s health plan. 
  • Cost savings: If employees want to save money, they may be able to find an individual plan with premiums lower than their allowance and not pay any out-of-pocket costs for coverage. In addition, they can use excess allowance amounts to cover a wide range of health care expenses. These reimbursements are tax-free, which can save employees even more money. 
  • Provide examples: Examples bring the ICHRA concept to life. For example, describe how employees in different locations can now choose different carriers. Mention real carrier names that will resonate with your workforce and give a real feeling to the scenario.  

<blog-icon-title>Patience is Key<blog-icon-title>

Finally, the most important tip around ICHRA communication: be patient! Remember that health benefits are sensitive so keep an open door policy that gives people the confidence that their questions will be answered. By following the above you can ensure that your employees understand and appreciate the benefits of ICHRA.

Zorro helps our partners with the entire onboarding process - from plan documentation and compliance to employee engagement and education. Curious to see what that looks like? Reach out!

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