Private Health Insurance Exchanges See 'Hyper-Growth'

Although the state and federal health insurance exchanges have most recently taken the national spotlight, attention may soon turn to private health exchanges.

Although the state and federal health insurance exchanges have most recently taken the national spotlight, attention may soon turn to private health exchanges. A recent Accenture report found that private exchange enrollment is expected to grow substantially faster than initially expected, a phenomenon the management consulting group has labeled as a “hyper-growth.”

While Accenture said the rapid growth may encourage exchange sponsors, it’s important to consider how these private exchanges might sustain a positive trajectory.

“Now that the first material open enrollment period has concluded, exchange sponsors have the opportunity to reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t,” read the report. “For instance, have the core promises of private health insurance exchanges been met—are these exchanges delivering the retail-like, front-end experience that consumers expect? Are employers feeling a reduced administrative burden?”

Private exchanges can vary depending on an employer’s size. They range from simple—which is designed to serve organizations with less than 100 employees— to premium, exchanges designed to serve “jumbo” employers (typically >50,000 employees). Even though some product offerings are standardized, exchanges can help companies to customize their employee benefits in order to suit their organization size and structure.

“Successful exchanges will develop thoughtful approaches to data management that can help simplify their employer and payer partners’ data complexities,” the report continued. “When employers are used to getting 5 bills per month—but now they are getting 15—they are not feeling administrative ease. Exchanges must provide employers the ability to support the efficient processing of bills from multiple carriers.”

The growth of private exchanges will also likely hinge on how well they incorporate personal decision support tools, as well as how they integrate employee healthcare savings or spending accounts.

“The private health insurance exchanges that make the right moves in the next 18-24 months will be the ones who are better positioned to achieve sustainable growth as this robust market matures. Getting the front end right will draw in customers, and getting the back end right will retain them,” concluded the report.

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Growing Pains for Private Health Insurance Exchanges [Accenture]