Private Exchanges Set to Explode

The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism held its first Private Exchange Forum March 31st and April 1st in Dallas, Texas, and the event was a huge success. IHC’s president Doug Field says they were hoping for 300 to 350 attendees at the Forum, one of several conferences hosted by the Institute, but there were more than 500 people at the inaugural event. Pretty impressive.

That seems fitting, though, given that the growth of private exchanges is exceeding many people’s expectations. As Dan Cook explains in a BenefitsPro.com article entitled “Private exchanges expected to take off,” the number of people “who now receive their health insurance via one of the private exchanges has doubled in the past year, from 3 million in 2014 to 6 million this year.” That’s according to consulting firm Accenture, who expects enrollment to double again next year and reach 40 million by 2018.

Much of the attention so far has been on group private exchanges, but right now individual private exchanges are a lot further along in their development. In fact, some of the first private exchanges were on the Medicare side. Large employers looking for a better solution for their retirees turned to a defined contribution / private exchange model in which they funded their former employees’ health coverage through an HRA. That sort of defined contribution approach is recommended on group private exchange plans as well – offering employees a choice among multiple options seems to be a key ingredient.

Of course, defined contribution is not permitted for individual health plans – the IRS has made that very clear over the past few months. But that doesn’t kill individual private exchanges as a solution for brokers to offer to their clients. In fact, as more and more companies move to private exchanges for the active full-time employees on their group health plans, it only makes sense to offer an individual private exchange for part-time employees, dependents, and others who are either not benefits-eligible or not receiving an employer contribution. In fact, a broker who fails to consider these stakeholders is not only leaving money on the table but also leaving a huge need unmet – one that could easily be met by another broker with both a group and individual private exchange solution.

If you’re one of those forward-thinking brokers who is already looking at a private exchange for your group clients, why not round out the strategy with an individual private exchange from HPA? It could help you protect your existing clients and could help you win a few new clients as well. Learn more here.

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