Blue Cross Blue Shield companies (BCBS) are changing how they offer health insurance to retirees. BCBS will launch an insurance exchange this summer to support employers' efforts to shift retirees from group health benefits to individual coverage that begins Jan 1., 2016, the insurer announced this week.
"BCBS Marketplace will provide an intuitive and personalized shopping experience to help retirees purchase the Medicare coverage that best meets their needs," said Maureen Sullivan, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. "This exchange will ensure that more retirees continue to benefit from the security and stability of Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance."
Through this endeavor, the marketplace can help employers reduce the costs of benefit administration and support employers who offer contributions to retiree coverage. Additionally, the exchange will offer retirees access to various BCBS products, such as vision, dental and life insurance coverage.
This latest venture is not the first private exchange for BCBS. There already are more than two dozen private exchanges run by various BCBS plans nationwide, but none are in the national scope, reported Forbes. Twenty-nine Blue Cross plans will participate in the new exchange.
Private exchanges continue to gain ground in a competitive health insurance marketplace--roughly 3 percent of large employers used them in 2014 and 28 percent expected to do so within five years, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. What's more, private exchanges give employees more choice, which can help control costs should they choose less expensive benefits, noted Forbes.