PBE Index grows as Starbucks moves to exchange

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While many private benefit exchange observers see the market slowing a bit, the Private Benefit Exchange Index saw a nice month-over-month increase. In addition, another major corporation, Starbucks, made the move to an online benefits marketplace.

Starbucks joins Darden Restaurants, Sears, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Walgreen and others transitioning benefits distribution to online platforms.

Indeed, organizations of all sizes continue to look to the exchanges. Just last month, 900 companies signed on with one of the operators included in the PBE Index.

That resulted in 6,700 more employees enrolling through the portals and 16,500 more lives covered by their plans. Year-over-year, the number of employers using exchanges run by PBE Index operators has increased 142%, the number of employees enrolling in benefits through the marketplaces has risen 104% and the number of lives covered by the plans sold on the platforms has jumped 117%.

Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz announced earlier this month that his employees’ benefits would now be served through a private exchange. The coffeehouse chain said employees working at least 20 hours a week can pick from six carriers and can choose from five “metallic” levels of medical plans offered by the Aon Active Health Exchange. Starbucks said employees will be able to work with a team of advisers who will help them choose their plans.

Starbucks said it will continue to cover about 70% of the premium costs and 100% of preventive care. The company employs more than 160,000 people and, in its latest fiscal year, spent more than $280 million for healthcare benefits.

Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser will continue to track the month-over-month growth in the online benefit marketplaces.

To create the PBE Index, EBA and EBN collect data from eight leading exchange operators on the number of employers using each platform, the number of employees enrolled in benefits through each platform and the number of lives covered by the policies sold through each platform. Every month, the editors aggregate and update the operators’ numbers.

The eight exchanges selected by the editors to participate in the PBE Index are a representative cross-section of the operator market and include benefitsCONNECT, bswift, Hanna, Lockton, Medica, Simple Insurance, Softheon and Solstice. The information provided by these brokers, insurers and technology-platform companies is self-reported and rounded.

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