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Smart Benefits: Employers Adapting to Private Exchanges

Monday, March 24, 2014

 

A new survey conducted by the Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) reveals that 45% of employers have implemented or plan to implement a private exchange for their full-time employees before 2018.

Exchange Drivers

The survey cites several reasons behind the growing interest in private exchanges:
• Employers appreciate the choice of plan options that the private exchanges afford employees – the top driver
• The ability to create flexible employee contributions, based on plan selection
• Tools that aid employees with plan selection
• The cost of the plans offered

Funding Preferences

The survey also showed that more than 50% of employers are interested in a self-insured exchange option, while just 33% said a fully insured option was important.

The growing interest in self-insurance is stemming, in part, from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA attaches three distinct taxes to fully-insured groups, the most costly of which is the health industry fee. This fee can be avoided if an employer is self-funded.

In response, insurance carriers are rapidly developing new self-funding opportunities for smaller employers with less than 500 employees.

Continued Barriers

Despite high employer interest, 80% of employers still believe that barriers to adoption exist. Among their top concerns are:
• immaturity of the market
• stability of the cost structure
• the track record of the exchange administrator.

Because private exchanges are relatively new and no long-term data on their success is available yet, employers have to weigh the risks of offering them against the benefits.

And Public Exchanges?

From the survey results, it appears that government-run exchanges are not being as readily embraced. In fact, only 15% of employers said they are encouraging employees to get coverage through the public exchanges.

Amy Gallagher has over 19 years of healthcare industry experience. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on long-term cost-containment strategies, consumer-driven solutions and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, is a member of local organizations like the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, HRM-RI, SHRM, WELCOA, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council, and participates in the Lieutenant Governor’s Health Benefits Exchange work group of the Health Care Reform Commission.
 

 

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