Evaluating Private Exchanges

iStock 000005253776XSmallThere are many private exchanges cropping up and we’ve written before about the risks in this area. However, there is also a tremendous upside when it comes to financial control, budgetary certainty, cost reduction, risk avoidance, employee choice and administrative overhead.  So what should you look for in a private exchange? Consider these areas:

Proven technology. If we’ve learned anything about healthcare.gov, we know an established, proven platform already in use with customers is crucial. Furthermore, make sure it is mobile-friendly!

Multiple funding models. Make sure the platform can accommodate all of the funding options and plan types that you need — fully insured, self-funded, health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), etc. 

Plan choices. How many medical, dental and vision plans are on the platform and how closely do they match your typical offerings? Can they accommodate your carriers? Do they offer ancillary benefits? Do the carriers bear the full load of compliance?

Decision-making support. How effective are the online and call center support services at enrollment? What alternatives do they offer for those unable to use the website? Is the call center US-based or offshore?

Employee advocacy services. Enrollment support is key, but then what? You need a platform that can handle new hires, terminations, status changes and ongoing claims support capable of understanding the intricacies of your plans.

Defined contribution modeling tools. For many, converting to a defined contribution model is complex. Ask to see what options and tools they have to help you make the best decisions.

Benefits accounting services. Having an enrollment platform is one thing. Reliably transferring data to carriers and payroll platforms is another.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to consider the advice of a benefits advisor to understand the different private exchange options and to determine which might best suit your employees’ needs. In addition to providing this advice, an advisor can also make the signing-up process easier for individual employees.