Employees who pick their own health plan through an online exchange report being better healthcare consumers and having higher satisfaction with their choice of plans, according to the “Liazon 2017 Employee Survey Report: Health Care Consumerism in Marketplace Environments,” that was conducted by online marketplace operator Liazon.

When signing up for a new health plan on the Liazon marketplace, the firm asked employees to take a test of their healthcare knowledge before and after the enrollment process. The survey found that 85% of employees feel more engaged in their health care decisions, up from 83% in 2015.

The enrollment survey also found that 82% of employees were more confident in their healthcare decisions after enrolling through the exchange. Further, 85% of workers reported that having a greater awareness of the cost of their medical care.

Respondents also favored having a greater say in the process of picking a health plan, according to Alan Cohen, co-founder of Liazon. His firm has been conducting surveys like this since 2013.

“We asked, “Would you rather do it this way or have your company choose your benefits?” Five percent of people said they want the company to make the choice for them and 95% want to make the choices themselves,” he says.

The survey also found that 75% of employees are more likely to stay with their employer because of their health benefits plan.

Younger employees appeared to be more open to the idea of choosing their own health plan from an exchange. Millennials (21%) responded that they were initially excited about moving to an exchange, compared to 16% of Gen Xers and 12% of Baby Boomers. After moving to an online marketplace, 85% of Millennials reported the highest satisfaction with their company’s decision to offer this option, compared to 78% of Gen Xers and 74% of Baby Boomers.

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“We definitely see a higher magnitude of satisfaction with the younger people,” says Cohen.

The Liazon survey also found that 72% of employees reported receiving better value from their benefits dollars after using the marketplace. Plus, 83% of employees reported that after switching to a marketplace, they had a greater appreciation of their company’s contribution to their health care. And a year later, 92% of employees were satisfied with the benefits they selected in the marketplace.

“The thing that surprised me the most is what people thought pre-marketplace and post-marketplace enrollment. Before employees went into the benefits exchange or marketplace, only 16% of employees were excited. That’s a really small percentage but after they went through the exchange, 79% said they were glad they did so.”

The survey data were collected from 21,855 employees on an ongoing basis to workers who completed open enrollment in 2016.

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