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2024 Annual Benefits Forum

March 5, 2024

Hilton Columbus/Polaris
8700 Lyra Dr, Columbus, OH


About the Event

Bigger and better than ever! Join us for our new two-day Annual Benefits Forum, March 5 and 6, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. Attendees will gain exclusive insights into benefits trends, network with industry professionals, meet leading solutions providers and more.

Attend the two-day forum for just $199. Registration is complimentary for Employers Health clients.



11:30 AM


12:00 PM

Lunch and Networking

Polaris Ballroom

12:55 PM


1:00 PM

Supporting Caregivers in the Workplace

Join licensed psychologist Jennifer Birdsall to discover:

  • Common work-life challenges faced by caregivers.
  • Identify holistic well-being services that can support caregivers and reduce caregiver stress.
  • Discuss opportunities for managers to support team members who are caregivers.

Jennifer Birdsall, Ph.D., ABPP
Clinical Director, ComPsych Corporation


1:45 PM

Medical Stop Loss & Risk Strategies for Catastrophic Claimants

Hear from Ryan Siemers, a nationally-recognized expert on self-funding and catastrophic claimant risk management as he discusses:

  • Awareness of current and evolving catastrophic claimants in the market, including inpatient hospitalizations, gene and other pipeline therapies.
  • Understanding of stop loss, including key policy provisions, underwriters, benchmarking and gene therapy carveouts.
  • Actions for use on your next stop loss renewal or review.

Ryan Siemers, CEBS
Principal, Aegis Risk

2:30 PM

Break and Networking


2:50 PM

Larry Morgan Award

This award is presented each year for outstanding support and contributions to Employers Health. It has been presented annually since 1988. It recognizes the effort and service rendered to Employers Health.

Learn more about the award and past recipients at

3:00 PM

Innovators in Employee Benefits: An Employer Panel

Benefits professionals are always asking what other employers are doing. In this panel discussion, you’ll hear from three leaders in Employee Benefits as they share what their organizations are doing to:

  • Improve employee health and quality of life through benefits.
  • Provide a comprehensive total rewards package to recruit and retain employees.
  • Build diverse, equitable and inclusive cultures.
  • Plan for the future of benefits in 2024 and beyond.


Misi Holmberg, CEBS, CPSP
Director, Benefits, Panera Bread

Candace Shaffer, M.S., CWPM
Associate Vice President, Benefits & Payroll, Purdue University

Erin Penland, CEBS
Benefits Manager, Designer Brands


4:00 PM

Competitive and Cost-Effective
Pharmacy Benefits: Perspectives from
Leading Consultants

Drawing from their collective experience, pharmacy benefit consultants will participate in a panel discussion sharing how they work with plan sponsors to mitigate rising pharmacy costs while also improving health outcomes by ensuring plan participants get the right drug, at the right price, at the right time.

Kim Comisar, MBA
Vice President, Pharmacy Consultant, Excelsior Solutions

Michael Zucarelli, PharmD
Pharmacy Practice Leader, CBIZ

Chris Brown
President, McAteer

5:00 PM

Reception and Networking

Gemini Ballroom

7:00 PM

After-Hours Activity

Topgolf Columbus
2000 Ikea Way, Columbus, OH 43240

Join us for cocktails, appetizers and fun at Topgolf Columbus, located four minutes from the Hilton/Polaris. 

7:30 AM

Breakfast, Registration and Networking

Polaris Ballroom

8:25 AM


8:30 AM

The View from Washington: Legislative and Regulatory Outlook  

Hear from Katy Johnson, senior counsel, health policy at the American Benefits Council, as she provides updates on:

  • The challenges facing Congress and regulatory agencies during an election year.
  • The legislative and regulatory environments related to employer-sponsored health benefit plans.
  • PBM-related reforms and the impact on the ERISA federal preemption.

Katy Johnson, J.D.
Senior Counsel, Health Policy,
American Benefits Council

9:30 AM

How KAG Uses Specialty Networks to Improve Outcomes and Reduce Spend

In this panel discussion, you’ll hear how Kenan Advantage Group has improved benefits spend by utilizing specialty networks. Representatives from KAG, Lockton and Employer Direct Healthcare will share:

  • What Centers of Excellence and specialty networks are and their role in enhancing member decision-making.
  • The mutual benefits of improved member experiences and reduced health care costs for both employees and employers through specialty networks.
  • The potential challenges in implementing specialty networks and how to overcome them for better benefits and cost of care.

Evelyne Giguere, FSA, MAAA
Senior Vice President of Consultant Relations, Employer Direct Healthcare

Leah Pilolli, GBA
Benefits Manager, Kenan Advantage Group

Michael Faughnan
Senior Vice President, Lockton Companies

10:30 AM

Break and Networking


10:45 AM

The Effects of Biosimilars and the Inflation Reduction Act on Prescription Drug Plans

Hear from Jeff Casberg and Julie Kendle of IPD analytics, as they share:

  • The status of launched biosimilars and anticipated developments in the biosimilar pipeline for 2024 and beyond.
  • Management strategies for unbranded biosimilars and PBM formulary exclusion lists.
  • How commercial employers and payers will be impacted by the prescription drug pricing provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Jeffrey Casberg, M.S., RPh
Vice President of Clinical Pharmacy,
IPD Analytics, LLC

Julie Kendle, PharmD
Director, Clinical Pharmacy, IPD Analytics, LLC

11:45 AM

Excellence in Benefits Award

The Excellence in Benefits Award, presented annually by Employers Health, seeks to recognize an individual who has made meaningful impact in the field and/or delivery of employee benefits.

Learn more about the award and past recipients at

11:55 AM

Lunch and Networking


12:45 PM

Breakout Sessions

Polaris Ballroom:

Tackling the Cost Conundrum: Strategies for Effective Health Care Cost Management

Hear how organizations like yours are providing a personalized benefits experience while simultaneously managing costs. In this session, HR and benefits experts will unveil strategies to navigate the challenges posed by increasing health care expenses, such as chronic conditions and specialty drug costs, while ensuring your benefits package caters to the unique needs of your employee population.

Carolyn Riva, Vice President, Sales Operations, Quantum Health
Joanna Mayer, CEBS, CMS, Benefits Director, National Church Residences
Courtney Meckes, Vice President, Benefits and
Wellbeing Strategy, First Horizon

Gemini Room A:

Understanding Depression’s Impact on Workplace Productivity and Strategies for Employers 

This session will focus on identifying major depressive disorder (MDD) and how it has been impacted by COVID-19. Attendees will gain insights into the economic impact of absenteeism/presenteeism and national treatment guidelines. And, you’ll hear an employer’s experience using integrated data for a comprehensive analysis of mental health’s impact on disability, productivity and disparities in the utilization of mental health resources.

Irina Smith, PharmD, CSP, Regional Medical Outcomes and Science Liaison, AbbVie
Dr. K. Andrew Crighton, Founder,
Crighton Consulting

Gemini Room C:

High-Deductible Health Plans: Savings, but at What Cost?

High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) can provide initial savings for the plan through a shift in cost share, but how does this plan design affect health care spend and utilization over time? Explore a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) case study with Patrick Henry, clinical advisor at Employers Health to discover performance trends, long-term effects on spend and how plan design influences outcomes for self-insured employers.

Patrick Henry, PharmD, Clinical Advisor,
Employers Health

1:20 PM

Breakout Sessions

Polaris Ballroom:

Musculoskeletal Claims: A Cost You Can Control

Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain continues to be a top claims driver for employers, yet it’s one of the few health care costs you can control. The key to driving meaningful change – and resulting ROI – is to make sure the MSK program you’re considering has a simple, personalized and complete care team approach backed by strong, independently-validated evidence of its efficacy. In this session, hear from the ATI Materials team about their benefits strategy and rigorous vetting process that has led to long-standing employee satisfaction, cost reduction and improved health outcomes.

Claire Morrow, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, OCS, Physical Therapy Manager,
Hinge Health
Nick Simpson, Human Resources Manager,
ATI Materials

Gemini Room A:

Overcome Mounting Pressures on Rx Plan Design and Administration Through Solid Required Plan Documentation

Scrutiny of prescription drug plan designs and administration continues to increase as government activity, plaintiff’s lawyers and claimants become more aggressive. Using a real-life problem, this session focuses on how going back to the ERISA-required basics of solid plan descriptions relieves these mounting pressures and offers an easy (“EZ”) solution.

Jeff Zimon, Esq., Founder, Partner, Zimon, LLC

Gemini Room C:

Driving Health Equity Through Digital Therapeutics 

In this session, experts in employee health and benefits will discuss how digital health tools foster accessibility for underserved populations, tackle mortality gaps like heart attacks and gain insights from the American Heart Association’s latest study on achieving heart equity.

Bianca Lopez, MEd,
Consultant Relations Manager,
Hello Heart
Ellen Lewis, GBA, FLMI, CBC,
Benefit Plan Administrator,
Southwestern Ohio EPC

1:55 PM

Breakout Sessions

Polaris Ballroom:

An Employer’s Guide to Health Care Price Transparency

Madison Connor will cover the latest in required health care reporting obligations including the Transparency in Coverage (TiC) Final Rule, RxDC Reporting and gag clause prohibition attestations. She’ll share what’s driving these initiatives and how they impact employer-sponsored health plans.

Madison Connor, J.D., CEBS,
Senior Vice President,
Regulatory Compliance and External Affairs, Employers Health

Gemini Room A:

Empowering Employee Health:
High-Quality Cancer Care Benefits for Healthier Employees and Lower Costs

James McCanney and Alyssa Schatz of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network will discuss:

  • How evidence-based clinical practice guidelines in oncology can be a tool to ensure coverage of optimal care for a healthy workforce while also reducing costs to both employers and employees.
  • Biomarker testing’s critical role in cancer care, recent policy trends around new requirements for biomarker testing coverage and evidence-based tools to navigate appropriate coverage.
  • Resources to help you evaluate your cancer care benefit design.

Alyssa Schatz, MSW,
Senior Director, Policy and Advocacy,
National Comprehensive Cancer Network
James McCanney, J.D.,
Director, Business Development,
National Comprehensive Cancer Network

Gemini Room C:

Cutting Costs and Unnecessary Treatment with High-Value Digital Care

The chronic pain epidemic prompts ineffective interventions, often managing symptoms without addressing root causes, resulting in worsened outcomes and increased costs for individuals and employers alike. In this session, members of the Johnson Electric benefits team will unveil a transformative approach, leveraging AI and personalized health care, to significantly reduce Musculoskeletal (MSK) spend while enhancing employee productivity.

Brandon Castel, Head of Enterprise Sales,
Sword Health
Paul Sweeney, Compensation & Benefits Manager (retired, 2023), Johnson Electric

2:25 PM

Break and Networking


2:35 PM

What You Should Know About GLP-1s

Hear from Employers Health clinical experts as they delve into the latest in GLP-1s.

  • Explore this expanding class and the utilization management strategies available for both diabetes and obesity.
  • Discuss coverage dynamics and what self-insured employers are currently doing to manage spend while improving health outcomes.
  • Gain insight on pipeline products and the future growth of this class.

Courtney Keefe, PharmD
Clinical Advisor, Employers Health

Ernesto Munoz, PharmD
Clinical Advisor, Employers Health

3:30 PM