Employees embrace freedom of choice on private exchange

After employers offered coverage through a private health exchange, 58 percent of employees chose a plan providing a different level of coverage than what they had, according to second-year enrollment analysis from Aon Hewitt, released Thursday.

An independent third-party analyzed enrollment results for Aon's Active Health Exchange, and found 31 percent of employees chose leaner coverage with a bronze-level plan, while 27 percent chose more expensive gold and platinum plans. Meanwhile, 42 percent of employees chose a silver plan, which was most similar to their level of coverage before enrolling in the private exchange.

Of the 600,000 employees and their family members enrolled through Active Health Exchange in 2014, 87 percent liked the ability to choose among multiple carriers.

"Because it is easier to understand the costs and differences between plans in our exchange, we've seen employees buy up as well as buy down, and they appreciate having the freedom to make those choices," Cary Grace, CEO of Aon Health Exchanges said in a statement.

Employees embraced the freedom of choice available on the private exchange, as the analysis showed a broad distribution of enrollment across the four levels of coverage. Some second-year enrollees switched plan levels (19 percent) while others even switched carriers (15 percent).

With employees embracing the variety of plan options available on private exchanges, it should come as no surprise that more employers are looking to use marketplaces offered by private companies. In fact, last month, one-third of roughly 1,230 organizations said they'll offer group-based health benefits to employees through a private exchange in the near future.

Moreover, enrollment on private exchanges will ultimately surpass their federal- and state-run counterparts, according to one analysis, which predicts nearly 40 million people will buy health plans from private exchanges by 2018, compared to the 31 million forecast to enroll in publicly-funded exchanges.

For more:
- here's the Aon announcement

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