Smart Benefits: Private Exchanges Open Up New Opportunities In RI
Monday, November 11, 2013
Unlike Rhode Island’s public exchange, HealthSource RI, which has focused on only small employers through its SHOP model, Benefits Passport will provide large group employers with more than 50 employees coverage starting January 1, 2014.
Benefits Passport is based on a defined contribution model, and will include options from BCBSRI and Tufts Health Plan locally, along with UnitedHealthcare at a national level. An open source program, the exchange can support all major insurance carriers as well as any carrier who is able to share a standard data feed. In addition to health insurance, Benefits Passport enables employers to add ancillary products like dental, vision, life disability and even voluntary benefits. Wellness programs and EAPs can also be accommodated.
The Rise of the Private Exchange
Even before the public exchanges opened for business, interest in private exchanges has been growing thanks to early pioneers like Bloom, offered by BCBS of Minnesota, and Bright Choices from Liaizon in other parts of the country. These models have proven beneficial to both employers and employees:
- Employers. As companies try to rein in costs, the private exchanges allow employers to fix their contribution to a set dollar amount, rather than sponsoring a specific plan design. Plus, there’s the added convenience of consolidating all administrative services with one vendor.
- Employees. Workers get to choose from a bundle of available plans based on their lifestyle and financial needs. With the ability to compare options, the exchanges allow employees to make more informed decisions according to their health and finances, making them better consumers.
Are Private Exchanges for All Companies?
As their numbers grow, the private exchanges are expected to have widespread appeal. But they may not be for every company. Employees need both to have access to computers and be comfortable using them. So some employers will not be able to take advantage of the technology right away.
A Suite of Support Services
For those companies that opt for the private exchange, full service and support is available to help employers and employees to optimize their experience. Specifically, Benefits Passport offers a full suite of services, including online enrollment, an employer contact center, accounting, payroll deduction reporting and billing.
Related Slideshow: Check Out The Grades: Rhode Island Hospitals Report Card
A recent survey released by The Leapfrog Group assigns a Hospital Safety Score, using the report card system of A to F to each of the hospitals in Rhode Island. These grades are based on expert analysis of injuries, infections and errors that cause harm or death during a hospital stay.
Let's see how each of Rhode Island's hospitals were graded from highest to lowest:
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