Employers are still figuring out their options for compliance in 2014, according to a panel discussion at a health care conference this week. The 10th World Health Care Congress kicked off Monday in National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington and the overarching theme in sessions of all kinds was discussions of cost and quality. On the circuit intended for employers, Mark Fogel, head of human resources for the New York-based accounting firm Marcum Group, said his organization is still “grappling” with what to do about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the new world for employers.

 “Public exchanges have been the topic in the media but private exchanges seem to be the topic for when we’re planning for 2014 and beyond,” Fogel said to a group of employers and carriers in the audience. Fogel emphasized several times that he plans to watch private exchanges and defined-contribution health plans over the next year because variety of options and lower costs for his employees is a goal to remain competitive.

Fogel continued by stating he’s meeting with his brokers and other health insurance advisers tomorrow to discuss compliance with PPACA in 2014 and how to lower health care costs. He noted that, “we may not be at the front of the curve, we may be in the middle of the curve,” regarding his company’s work toward PPACA solutions in the next year and beyond.

Elizabeth Bierbower, head of the employer group segment at Humana, also participated in the panel. Speaking from the carrier perspective she said, “My point today was to have you step back and say, what is health reform and what is it causing?” She opened with a recap of employee benefits, reminding the crowd that employee benefits came into existence 70 years ago, and while companies have never been required to provide them until now, they always have.

The title of the panel discussion was “Drive a strategic workforce plan in an era of new health benefit alternatives.”

Photo: Fotolia

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