Helping employers with benefits education is often cited as a key advantage of private health care exchanges. And while educating employees on their benefit choices was noted as a top challenge in a recent employer survey, only 2% of those surveyed have opted for a private exchange.

Nearly one-quarter (22%), meanwhile, have considered a private exchange but have chosen not to participate in one.

The cost of the Affordable Care Act remains a significant concern among those surveyed, with 60% saying they feel the cost of health care will rise as a direct result of the ACA. Sixty-five percent say educating employees on their benefit choices is their key challenge with respect to providing benefits.

Also see: Private exchanges in good position to succeed

“The main challenge for the majority of decision makers in the benefits space is educating their employees on benefit choices. As employers learn more, we’re confident that private exchanges will see significant growth,” said Scott Carver, president of benefits administrator and exchange provider PlanSource, which commissioned the survey.

Respondents were split on how the growth of private health care exchanges will affect the role of insurance brokers in the benefits planning, choice, and management process. Twenty-nine percent felt private exchanges would decrease the importance of brokers, while 26% felt the opposite. More than 32% said they were not sure of the effect.

When asked what private exchanges should offer employees, 79% felt the top priority was to offer competitive health care choices for employees. Other responses included:

  • Making choosing insurance plans easier and quicker (66%)
  • Help employees make better selections on insurance plans (65%)
  • Offer more competitive choices (47%)
  • Provide an online shopping experience like Amazon for benefits (43%)

The survey was fielded from March 25-28, 2014, among 266 industry professionals including CFOs, HR executives, and benefit managers.

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