Online Marketplace for Health Benefits

September 11, 2013

This fall, tens of thousands of U.S. workers will learn that they're getting their health benefits next year in a radical new way: Their employers will give them a fixed sum of money and let them choose their plan from an online marketplace, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • More health-industry players are launching the online employer marketplaces, known as private exchanges, that let employers offer their workers a range of choices to shop from.
  • Companies now jumping in are betting that 2014 will be the start of a ramping up over the next few years.
  • Accenture projects that around a million Americans will get employer health coverage through such marketplaces next year and the number will increase to 40 million by 2018.

Operators of employer health insurance marketplaces say many workers pick cheaper coverage than they previously had and that is one way the exchange approach can save money.

Employers hope the exchanges will trim costs and make their health spending more predictable. But some experts say workers could be squeezed by the fixed-sum approach if the dollars allotted each year don't keep up with the rising cost of coverage.

Source: Anna Wilde Mathews, "More Employers Overhaul Health Benefits," Wall Street Journal, September 3, 2013.

 

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