Mercer's private exchange reels in five clientsNews added by Benefits Pro on July 16, 2013

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By Dan Cook

Mercer Marketplace may be on to something with its private health care exchange.

The consulting firm announced Monday that five “major U.S. employers” have contracted with its exchange to provide employee health benefits. Mercer wouldn’t name the companies but said they ranged in size from 800 to 25,000 workers and represented a range of industries. The clients sought a mix of self and fully funded plans through the exchange.

Mercer said it is in “active discussions” with more potential exchange customers.

Private health care exchanges aren’t new, but are gaining more traction in the Obamacare era. The exchanges are designed to assist employers with obtaining more flexible coverage for their employees. The selling points are that they enable employers to manage both the cost of coverage and the specific benefits included in the packages.

In essence, private exchanges allow companies more flexibility in offering different benefits packages to different tiers of employees. They can then offer packages that meet recruiting and retention needs for key employees, and basic coverage for other groups of workers, all the while meeting the requirements of the PPACA.

Mercer’s President and CEO Julio Portalatin was “thrilled” with the response to the exchange product.

“As (the clients’) diversity illustrates, Mercer Marketplace is flexible and easily tailored to an employer’s size, needs, and financing preference,” he said in a news release.

Mercer claims its plans not only offer coverage flexibility but are geared toward achieving PPACA compliance.

“In addition to helping employers manage costs, simplify administration, and enhance member experience and coverage, Mercer Marketplace facilitates employers’ compliance with the health reform law’s many requirements,” the company said.

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