By Scott Carver, President of PlanSource
NOTE: This originally appeared as a featured blog post on ihcc.com, the site for the Institute for Healthcare Consumerism
At PlanSource, we have a unique perspective on the impact that exchanges will have in the health care benefits landscape. Our MyPlanSource technology is a complete health insurance exchange platform – one that spans both private and public exchanges (which are very different), one that includes both single- and multi-carrier installations, and one that also includes both carrier-specific and broker-specific exchanges.
We speak daily with all of the parties involved in the exchange equation – carriers, employers, the employees who act as buyers and end users, and third-party brokers who are actively involved in the decision-making and/or ongoing administration process – and the majority of these discussions center on the private exchange model. We’ve found that there are two common threads that have enough groundswell of interest and appeal that they are inevitable.
The first point is also the most obvious: that migrating to an online technology solution is imperative for employers of all types and sizes. The growing workload for compliance with the Affordable Care Act – much of which can be automated through system reporting – is a compelling reason for that change. The second point is the opportunity for employers to set up defined contribution parameters, which provides a means for cost control, simplified compliance, and a way to communicate to employees the full value of their total compensation package.
Beyond these two points we see little substantive difference in the way health benefits are being addressed when compared to the time before health care reform and exchanges. Before ACA an employer would engage carriers, shop/compare rates and plans, and then offer those choices to their employees. Now they’re engaging in the same process, but simply using an online system (which also happens to be more efficient for carriers and brokers as well). Employees get those same benefits, and the experience is both familiar and in line with expectations from other areas such as online retail – with comparison tools, advanced decision support, and even cost modeling and plan recommendation options available (for example, all of these are integrated directly in our platform).
The private exchange model, and these two points in particular, use the power of technology to empower everyone involved in the process. Empowerment increases overall satisfaction and improves the final results, which is one of the main goals of health care reform, a primary mission of our company, and overall a good thing for everyone involved in health benefits.