Mercer health benefit consultants have come up with a short list of what employer health plan sponsors need to keep top-of-mind in the New Year:

1. Prepare for 2014 health care reform requirements. In 2014, employers will be required to offer qualified health coverage to all employees working 30 or more hours per week, so in 2013 they need to determine who those employees are and whether their existing health plan qualifies.

2. Evaluate the level of benefits provided to plan participants. As employers are asked to cover more and more individuals, they are reconsidering the level of benefits they provide and how much they are able to contribute to the cost. Providing employees with a lower-cost plan (like a consumer-driven health plan) as the core benefit and giving them the option to pay more for richer coverage is one approach to benefits gaining momentum.

3. Examine whether or not private health exchanges have a place in the health benefits strategy. While relatively few employers expect to drop their medical plans entirely, some are considering private exchanges for retirees, active employees, or both. Health exchanges reduce the administrative burden for employers and can give members more flexibility in selecting insurance products to meet their needs.

4. Rethink where and how care is delivered. Market innovations like telemedicine, surgical centers of excellence and medical homes are starting to transform the landscape of our health care delivery system.

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