Questions abound in today's employee benefit industry, and there is understandable skepticism about whether the winds of change bode well or ill. Plan sponsors, brokers, consultants and vendors are all seeking information to help them make tactical and strategic decisions about the future.

Among their questions:

* Will the Affordable Care Act continue to be implemented on schedule, or will there be further delays or roadblocks?

* Can wellness programs really move the needle on employee health and productivity while also reducing benefit costs?

* Can financial education efforts change employee behavior and improve retirement readiness?

* Do employees really want to spend more of their hard-earned pay on voluntary benefits?

* Can employers, advisers and vendors find new, more effective ways of working together to confront all these challenges?

Such questions do not, however, indicate the benefits delivery system is broken, or even in a dramatic state of decline. Rather, they are signs of critical thinking, an examination of changes being implemented to improve the system with all the uncertainty and potential for mishaps that accompany any change. We welcome your questions and opinions expressed in our magazines, websites, and through social media. And we are delighted that attendees are bringing their questions - and their skepticism - to the co-located Benefits Forum & Expo and Workplace Benefit Summit in New Orleans.

Over the course of these three days attendees will hear solution-packed presentations from some of the industry's best and brightest participants. Moreover, they will have the opportunity to address their most pressing questions to those presenters as well as peers who have been wrestling with common problems.

In addition to the educational workshops, the conference features General Session speakers to motivate and inspire listeners no matter what challenges they currently encounter. And attendees can seek answers from leading providers of benefit products and services in our BF&E exhibit hall. Because the best solutions are sometimes discovered in more informal settings, however, there are also ample program opportunities to network and socialize with other attendees - all served up with a taste of The Big Easy.

New Orleans is sometimes known as "The City that Care Forgot." Actually, we hope you brought your cares with you, so that during these few days you can share them, address them and find ways to make them go away for good. And if you haven't been able to break away from the office to join us in New Orleans, you can look for recaps in upcoming issues of EBN, and bring us your questions and comments here.

Send letters, queries and story ideas to Managing Editor Andrea Davis at andrea.davis@sourcemedia.com.

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