Private exchanges looking good to carriersNews added by Benefits Pro on September 10, 2013

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By Dan Cook

Insurance providers are feeling increasingly good about the emerging private insurance exchanges. But carriers are a bit miffed that brokers don’t seem to be doing their homework on the exchanges, and instead want carriers to provide them with answers to the private exchange quiz.

This and more intelligence comes from a study by Eastbridge Consulting Group, which surveyed carriers about their expectations for and attitudes toward private exchanges.

Asked to cite negatives and positives with respect to the exchanges, Eastbridge said they were much more bullish about the benefits of the exchanges.

Three big upsides cited:
    1. The very existence of the exchanges, and the sanctions that hang over the heads of those who ignore them, are educating both employers and employees about the voluntary options available as health insurance becomes more readily obtainable.

    2. Voluntary products will have new and more distribution channels open via the private exchanges.

    3. Increased bundling of voluntary products, including health savings accounts, which may take hold more generally under the exchanges.
“As for negatives, the carriers believe that, over time, there may be commoditization of voluntary products and services possibly causing a downward pressure on rates, carrier margins, and broker compensation,” Eastbridge said.

Carriers also reported they are getting large numbers of requests from brokers for helping in navigating the exchanges.

“Not only do brokers want advice on product options and sales strategies, claim the carriers, but also on new regulatory, compliance, and tax impacts for their clients,” Eastbridge said. “Carriers also believe that brokers will need to become more consultative in their approach with clients. In their opinion, it will become more about offering a wider array of products and more communication overall.”

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