By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service
CHICAGO (April 9, 2015) — Enrollment in private health insurance exchanges doubled in the last year, with even larger enrollment increases expected during the next few years, according to a new report.
Consultant Accenture L.L.C. in Chicago reported April 7 that exchange enrollment doubled so far in 2015 to 6 million, with enrollment expected to double again to 12 million in 2016 and hit 40 million in 2018.
“We remain optimistic that several factors will catalyze enrollment in private health insurance exchanges through 2018,” Rich Birhanzel, managing director for Accenture Health Administration Services said in a statement.
“This is especially true as the market matures, employers gain more control of benefit design and evidence continues mounting on the tangible benefits of the model,” Mr. Birhanzel said.
Others agree that exchange enrollment will continue to surge. For employers, offering coverage to employees through exchanges reduces their administrative burdens, said Sharon Cunninghis, leader in New York of Mercer L.L.C.'s insurance exchange, with exchange insurers handling claims and assisting employees with questions they have.
“Administrative complexities are taken off employers' plates,” Ms. Cunninghis added.
At the same time, employees typically will have more plans to choose from, Ms. Cunninghis said. In addition, with employers providing a fixed premium contribution for employees to use to purchase coverage, the exchange approach offers employers greater cost predictability.
Accenture says its 2015 enrolment estimate was calculated by assessing exchange enrollment through last month.
Numerous well-known employers that have shifted to the exchange model include Darden Restaurants Inc., Sears Holdings Corp., United Parcel Service Inc. and Walgreen Co.
This report appeared on the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.