Private insurance exchanges see 35% enrollment bump in 2015, Accenture report says

Experts say growth in exchange traffic is likely to continue as health benefits increase in cost and become more complex.
By Bernie Monegain
09:56 AM

Thirty-five percent more people than last year have enrolled for their employer-sponsored healthcare benefits on private online marketplaces, according to a new report from global consulting and technology firm Accenture.

It estimates that 8 million people enrolled, up from about 6 million in 2015.

However, that growth is lower than expected.

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"While adoption is substantial, it does represent a bit of a deceleration from previous growth rates, and a little bit lower than in previous forecasts," said Scott Brown, managing director at Accenture Health and one of the authors of the report.

"We're also beginning to see larger employers taking a wait-and-see approach," Brown added, explaining that these employers continue to look for ways to contain their costs.

He believes that wait-and-see approach is responsible for the the lower than anticipated growth in private exchange business.

I think they see a lot of uncertainty in the market as it relates to exchanges," Brown said.

As Rich Birhanzel managing director of Accenture's Health Administration Services sees it, the growth in exchange traffic is likely to continue as health benefits increase in cost and become more complex, employers will be looking for new models and demand more choices.

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"The extent to which private exchanges succeed at differentiating themselves and proving their value over traditional benefits delivery plans will ultimately determine their future growth," Birhanzel said.

Accenture's research shows that the growth of private health insurance exchanges continues to be fueled by midsize companies with 100 to 2,500 employees.

The rate of adoption among large employers grew slightly in 2015, but many have been on the fence in determining whether to adopt private health insurance exchanges, according to Accenture's findings.

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