Survey: Big employers may shift workers to private exchanges

Insurers might see even more consumers enrolling in plans sold through health insurance exchanges based on new survey findings that some large employers may switch their workers to the online marketplaces.

The country's largest employers could see the cost of offering healthcare coverage rise by 7 percent next year, according to a new survey from the National Business Group on Health. To offset those costs, some companies are considering moving their employees to exchanges while offering only consumer-directed health plans (CDHP).

"Rising healthcare costs remain a serious concern for U.S. employers," NGBH CEO Helen Darling said in a statement accompanying the survey. "Employers continue to implement numerous tactics to control costs, improve employee health and productivity and ensure the delivery of high-quality healthcare to their employees and dependents."

Employers "see the exchanges as logical places" for their workers, Darling told Kaiser Health News. Although large employers can't use exchanges until at least 2017, they could move their employees and retirees to private exchanges, and about 33 percent of the survey respondents said they're considering such a move.

"At this point it's still mostly interest," Darling said. "There's a lot of talk." But she expects quicker adoption of private exchanges for retirees, as almost 50 percent of employers are considering moving retirees into private exchanges and 10 percent have already made the shift, Kaiser Health News noted.

Additionally, 72 percent of the 108 employers that responded to the survey said they offer CDHPs, and 22 percent say CDHPs will be their only coverage option for employees, up from 19 percent this year.

To learn more:
- here's the NGBH survey and statement
- read the Kaiser Health News article

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