Hospitals helping staff, public demystify health-care reform

As the acrimony over the new national health plan dies down, prominent hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, are taking the lead in educating the public about what the new health bill means. Here’s how they’re doing it.

After a year’s worth of debate and speculation about public options, pre-existing conditions and “death panels,” it’s now up to hospital managers and communicators to let their staffs and their communities know the facts of the health care reform law.

“We face huge challenges,” says Danny Chun, vice president of communications and marketing, for the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA).

According to a timeline on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website, the law has already effected 25 changes. They include extending dependent coverage through age 25, reductions in Medicare reimbursements for providers, and a requirement that insurance plans provide minimum coverage for preventive care.

But the biggest shifts are still to come, with health insurance exchanges for small business, a requirement for individuals to carry health insurance, and a prohibition against limiting the dollar value of coverage going into effect in 2014. The law won’t be fully in place until 2019.

With these incremental changes coming and widespread confusion over such a complex law, communicators are turning to every resource they can find.

Mining the public domain

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