The first signs I see of spring is when our staff starts scrambling to put together the last details for our first conference of the year. They are in full-sprint mode, so I know we are now inside of a month. It seems like just yesterday when we were saying goodbye for the rest of the year when we finished up our 2012 Orlando conference, but yes, our first conference of 2013–San Francisco–is just about here! (A note—don’t miss the early registration discount date, 2/22/13.)

I thought an interesting exercise this year, leading up to each of our four conferences, would be to throw out a topic that can spur some conversations that could take place onsite. I couldn’t think of anything more relevant—or more controversial—than PPACA, a/k/a Obamacare.

One of the more amazing things that I’ve witnessed in my 30+ years in the benefits business is the passion that surrounds PPACA, generally split just about evenly between those who favor it and those who oppose it. However, when you speak to people outside the benefits world, at least in my experience, their opinions are based almost universally on political affiliation, with little knowledge of what’s actually inside the legislation. Further, the conclusion that they’ve reached—to either love it or hate it—is based not on individual pieces but on the whole concept. I’ve found that if you can have a discussion with someone rationally about the legislation (not always possible, since these beliefs are often very deep rooted on both sides) you find there are pieces that even the most ardent haters like and pieces that those who are in love with the concept dislike.

So…I thought we should open this up for some good honest, professional debate. Of course, there are a few rules! First, let’s not make this politically based. I know it’s difficult to keep politics out of any discussion regarding the Affordable Care Act, but let’s try. Second, let’s focus on specific pieces of the act, not the act in its totality. Please start any posts out with “I love this about Obamacare…”, “I hate this about Obamacare…” or “I’m still sitting on the fence about this piece of Obamacare…” Finally, don’t just state what you love or hate, but include your reason(s).

As an example (not my opinion, just an example): “I love Obamacare because we can now cover our employees’ dependents up to when they turn 26. This is important to me because…” Follow-ons could say something like “Even though I love the rule, I don’t like that this cost may end up being borne by the employer” or “this will actually save us money because we’re adding younger healthier people to our pool.” (Again, not my opinions, just examples.)

Let’s start the discussion electronically, and then we will continue it in San Francisco. I will make a summary (no personally identifiable information included) just before our San Francisco conference opens and will post the summary on this blog and let people know when that’s available.

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This should be both fun and interesting!