health care costs on w-2 offer communication opportunity about employee wellness

February 14, 2013

in communication,health care,health care reform

whoa! what’s that new line item on my w-2? is that taxable?

employers are starting to field questions like these from their employees. that’s because employees are having their eyes opened to the cost of their employer-provided health care benefits. some employees have seen the value of these benefits before in companywide communications or total compensation statements. now, as part of the affordable care act, all employees are seeing what their employers pay for their health care coverage.

it’s easy to understand why employees are shocked. they’ve been as removed from the cost of health care as most of us—including doctors and other providers.

irs w-2 reporting chart

fixing at least part of this problem is behind the federal government’s w-2 reporting requirement. the reporting’s intended to provide comparable information on the cost of employees’ health care coverage. while this will become particularly useful later, when health exchanges are available, the inclusion of this figure affords employers a unique communication opportunity today.

health care facts and figures are an important part of the conversation employers are having with employees about their health and well-being. i’ve shared this opinion before. educating employees about health care costs and how they directly impact salary, bonuses, premiums and business performance is a fundamental way to help employees understand what’s at stake. it makes employees a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. it treats them like the health care consumers employers want them to be. and, it only increases the loyalty and related engagement level this good value delivers.

employers who have shied away from this conversation before have a perfect opportunity to step up to the plate and put this ball in play.


more: two useful IRS documents to draw from:


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