As the Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in King v. Burwell on the legality of subsidies available for individuals purchasing health insurance on the federal exchange, across the street at the National Business Group on Health Business Health Agenda conference, attendees listened to several success stories from companies using private exchanges.

Picking the right plan at enrollment is clearly important, said Sherri Bockhorst, national practice leader, health exchange solutions at Buck Consultants at Xerox, which runs the RightOpt private exchange. But, she added, the challenge has been how to get employees to continue engaging in the plan all year.

“The overall success has been great,” she says. “We’re excited [about] where we are,” noting the high engagement rates since open enrollment last fall. “They are engaging on average one time a month, getting info on their HSA balances, preventive care metrics … it’s really interesting to see how they’re engaging.”

Also see: Demystifying the private exchange solution

It’s not about that one time a year for enrollment, adds Lisa Larson, senior director, HR operations at AMN Healthcare, an employer that uses Buck’s private exchange. “As benefit professionals, we hope people are thinking about [their health plans] all year long. This is an opportunity for us to keep employees thinking about benefits all the time.”

A little over two months into enrollment on the private exchange, Larson noted the following:

  • 91% of employees enrolled online.
  • 9% used the call center enrollment.
  • 10% -18% enrolled in some type of voluntary benefit.
  • 96% reported being satisfied with the customer service.

Jean Moore, managing director of OneExchange Active with Towers Watson notes there are several reasons for plan sponsors to consider looking at engaging with private exchanges sooner rather than later.
Also see: Envision Healthcare shares reasons, challenges in private exchange move

Time is trend and trend is money, Moore adds. “If you want to save money starting today, one way to reduce it over time is to reduce the trend line.” Additionally, she says, employers will be delivering more choices and more programs which, in the long run, could drive costs down.

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