Study: More employers look to private exchanges

Forty-five percent of employers polled in November said they'll consider or use a private health insurance exchange before 2018 for their full-time employees, according to a new online survey from the Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC).

That represents a gain of 12 percentage points in employer consideration of private exchanges from national survey results in August. But obstacles remain to private exchange adoption, including questions about long-term stability and whether these exchanges will let employers tailor their benefit offerings, the study found.      

Moreover, if employers can eventually contribute to staff insurance coverage in the marketplace, then 58 percent would consider encouraging their workers to buy exchange plans. And employers are split on whether they'll switch to a defined contribution plan, the study found.

"The survey results indicate a strong interest in private exchanges, but also uncertainty about the benefits," Laurel Pickering, president and CEO of Northeast Business Group on Health, said in the survey announcement.

The survey involved 723 respondents representing a mix of self-insured and fully-insured businesses with staff counts ranging from small (fewer than 500 employees) to jumbo (10,000 or more employees) across different industries.

Expected to surpass federal and state exchanges by 2018 as the vehicles by which Americans buy health insurance, private exchanges are gaining ground as an alternative to employer-sponsored benefit options.    

And it's not only traditional insurers that have ventured into the private exchange world: With 40,000 uninsured North Dakotans and only 2,253 marketplace coverage applications completed as of November, the financial advisory company Eide Bailly, LLP saw an opportunity to start a private exchange system for its clients, reported The Bismark Tribune. Private exchange systems like this one may capitalize on a decline of conventional group health insurance plans due to costs and regulatory restrictions, the Tribune noted.       

For more:
- read the announcement and survey (.pdf)
- here's the Bismark Tribune article

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