What are CFOs asking about private health exchanges? Part 1 of 2

Earlier this month, I presented private health exchanges to an audience of CFOs at the Corporate Financial Executive Summit at the New York Stock Exchange (and rang the NYSE opening bell). As the concept of a private health exchange for large employers’ active employees is still relatively new, I explained the model and its core benefits.

The audience was mostly concerned with two main questions: how employees would handle the change and, appropriately, how private exchanges can mitigate the risk associated with unpredictable, rising health care costs.

During this two-part blog post series, we’ll tackle both questions.

We commonly hear from HR departments that the change might be too much for their employees or that employees won’t be able to handle so much choice. While CFOs typically lean more towards cost mitigation, this group was refreshingly concerned about the potential negative impact on employees. Our enrollment results suggest the opposite is really true. Consumers actually liked having choices and felt confident that they made good decisions.

How do employees handle the move to a private health exchange?

Based on two years of enrollment experience, and as mentioned before, employees like the exchange model.

of enrollees liked being able to choose among multiple carriers

of enrollees felt confident they chose the health plan that offered the best value
for them and their families

While new to the benefits world, the exchange concept isn’t new to consumers. In fact, consumers use “exchanges” all the time – sites like amazon.com, zappos.com, and kayak.com are all types of “exchanges” in that they bring together the same or similar products at different price points from many different companies. Apply that to group health benefits and you get the exchange model. However, since health benefits are more personal and complex than shoes or flights, it’s important to offer consumers the tools they need to make educated decisions. That’s why the Aon Active Health Exchange solution offers robust decision support tools, including health plan comparisons, cost estimators and provider search tools, so consumers can understand their options and make tailored decisions based on what’s right for them. They can also leverage our benefit advisors to answer any questions.

What we’ve seen is exactly what we were hoping would happen. Employees are becoming more informed and empowered health care consumers.

of enrollees say they have a good understanding of how they share the cost
of group medical coverage with their employer

They also now have a more transparent view of health care and how much it costs, a critical and missing link in today’s health care system.

Stay tuned for part two of this post, where we tackle how private exchanges can mitigate the risk associated with unpredictable, rising health care costs by demonstrating the cost savings our current clients have experienced using Aon Active Health Exchange.

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