I write this from EBN's offices in Arlington, Va. - a short Metro ride from the heart of the District - and I can tell you that all of the rollercoaster of emotions you probably felt after Oct. 1's kickoff of the public exchanges was only slightly multiplied here, inside the Beltway.

True enough, the primary event we'd been anticipating on Oct. 1 was ever so slightly overshadowed by a total government shutdown and an ongoing battle about retroactively undermining the funding of the ACA. A curious mix of wishful thinking and revisionist history, but that's the name of the game in D.C.

Nonetheless, the HR world did not come to a screeching halt - unlike federal agencies, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers and the millions of private industry folks who make their living working with the federal government. As many of you in the benefits decision-making end of the pool noted, the public exchanges really weren't going to impact you anyhow.

But that unceremonious launch day did at least help to bring some national focus on these final months as the full brunt of ACA begins to be felt. Obamacare is a real thing. Though my favorite "Jimmy Kimmel Live"-derived gag is that while millions are opposed to Obamacare, they don't feel so bad about the apparently unrelated Affordable Care Act. We have a long way to go.

On a more positive, apolitical note, this month we focus some attention on the issue of helping your employees improve their own health through the use of the once-lowly pedometer. It may seem like a low-tech approach to a very complex issue, but as we explore in our feature, strapping a measurement tool to your arm is not only a good way to prompt more active participation in weight loss and general health-centered programming, it also builds a sense of accountability. And for employers such as Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, that's produced tangible results - helping employees shed many pounds of unhealthy weight.

We also touch on the not-unrelated topic of transparency in health care costs, with a range of entrepreneurs who've crafted systems to help you (and plan participants) more accurately understand the real costs of health care and better examine more cost-effective alternatives.

And as a quick look back to what seems like the golden age, the week before Oct. 1, we also give you a recap of some of the best bits from this year's Benefits Forum & Expo, held in ever-exciting New Orleans - including advice on handling the next few months, courtesy of Teresa White, executive VP of Aflac Columbus.

In the meantime, I have my fingers crossed that by the time you read this, the budget mess will have been resolved, the debt ceiling crisis will have been averted, and that life will go on as normal. There's a chance this may be wishful thinking on my part. I hope that is not the case.

 

Send letters, queries and story ideas to Editor-in-Chief Andy Stonehouse at andy.stonehouse@sourcemedia.com.

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