Evalutate Health Care Reform
By: Matt Dunning (Business Insurance) October 2013

PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. and several nonprofit business coalitions are teaming up to form an independent research organization designed to help employers navigate a rapidly expanding marketplace of private health insurance exchanges.

The Private Exchange Evaluation Collaborative — a joint effort between New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Employers Health Coalition, the Midwest Business Group on Health, the Northeast Business Group on Health and the Pacific Business Group on Health — will provide employers a comprehensive database of information on leading providers’ private health benefits exchanges, including financial models, product offerings, technology and business process capabilities, administrative requirements and employee support services, according to a statement released by the group on Thursday.

“It was becoming clear that there was a void in terms of access to independent assessments of private exchange strategies and selection, and we saw an opportunity to help fill that void,” Mike Thompson, New York-based principal and health care practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said in an interview with Business Insurance.

More than 100 private exchanges

Mr. Thompson said more than 100 private exchanges have been launched within the last few years, largely in anticipation of fundamental shifts in the health insurance market resulting from the onset of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Each day we hear about a new entity that’s launching a private exchange. We want to help employers understand what these exchanges are and how they differ,” said Larry Boress, president and CEO of the Chicago-based Midwest Business Group on Health. “We think that by collecting common information from the exchanges and developing a database from it, we can give employers a way to compare them on an apples-to-apples basis.”

In order to get a more complete view of conditions in the private exchange marketplace, the PEEC next week will begin surveying large and midsize employers regarding their timelines for considering and/or enrolling in private exchanges, which providers they intend to use, and what features and services they view as critical.

“The No. 1 thing that employers are looking for is information regarding what other employers are doing,” Mr. Thompson said. “Additionally, we want to better understand what employers’ values and concerns are as they approach this market. In part, we think that the private exchanges shouldn’t be evaluated based solely on what they offer, but also on what employers require of them.”

Mr. Thompson said the PEEC hopes to publish the results of its first employer survey in November, and that its initial evaluation of the exchanges themselves will likely be released by year’s end.

“The private exchange market is very immature,” Mr. Thompson said. “These private exchanges are likely to change, so we intend to not only assess and understand their current capabilities. We also want to continuously monitor changes in those capabilities over time, and use that to stay on top of how this market evolves over the next few years.”

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