About 2.5 million people have enrolled in private health insurance exchanges so far. Industry experts predict that number could grow by three times that amount this year, reported Employee Benefit News.
"While Healthcare.gov and the clunky roll out of the public insurance exchange got all the attention in 2014, the real action is in the private exchanges," Reenita Das, a partner at growth-strategies adviser Frost & Sullivan, wrote in a blog for Forbes.
Das predicts that the private exchanges could grow by almost 300 percent this year. That means the number of consumers enrolled in private exchanges could reach as much as 6 million.
Barbara Gniewek, a principal in the health care practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers, agrees, telling EBN that "many are watching private exchange enrollment to see when the 'hockey stick' uptick will take place, because once it does, many expect a piling-on effect."
In fact, PwC's most recent employer survey from December shows that 47 percent of respondents are interested in private exchanges, while 20 percent are considering them for 2016.
If more consumers sign up for private exchanges as well as public marketplaces, competition among the insurers will increase, likely forcing the companies to focus on quality and price in order to attract customers, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
Other industry experts aren't as confident that consumers will sign up so quickly on private exchanges. Although Paul Fronstin, director of the Employee Benefit Research Institute's Health Research and Education Program, believes the private exchange market will grow, he told EBN he's wary of surveys showing mere interest in the marketplaces. Interest doesn't always translate to enrollment, he said.