Brokers help drive private exchange's growthNews added by Benefits Pro on September 30, 2013

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By Kathryn Mayer

One of the more-established private insurance exchanges in the country says business is booming this year -- and that brokers are at least partly responsible.

Buffalo, N.Y.-based Liazon Corp. — and its flagship product, the Bright Choices Exchange — is achieving “exceptional growth,” its executives said this week. The driving force behind that growth is Liazon’s “wide network of broker partners, over 300 of whom deliver Bright Choices to clients nationwide,” the company said in a press release.

More than 200 companies have signed up for the benefits private exchange so far this year, and executives predicted many more will join in time for Jan. 1, 2014 benefits renewals. The increased interest is primarily coming from mid-sized and large businesses.

To date, Liazon has experienced a 450 percent year-over-year increase in new users added to its platform. Established in 2008, the Bright Choices Exchange has employees from more than 2,400 companies enrolled.

In a separate whitepaper, Liazon said it believes that “private exchanges will not replace the role of benefit consultants and agents/brokers, (but) rather, private exchanges will serve as a new product giving the consultant/agent/broker additional options for their clients.”

Industry experts agree brokers are becoming more and more involved in private exchanges.

Brokers, Liazon said, are playing a key role in educating employers about the role and benefits of private exchanges. Plus, brokers benefit from offering voluntary products on the private exchanges, products that aren’t available on the federal exchanges.

According to Eastbridge Consulting Group, 90 percent of carriers say they’re planning on offering their voluntary products through a private exchange.

Eastbridge reported last month that those carriers are either still developing their strategy or planning to work with carriers, brokers/consultants, or technology vendors to craft their solution.

Private exchanges are booming as their public exchange counterparts are set to open up for open enrollment Oct. 1.

“The market has turned the corner,” said Ashok Subramanian, CEO and co-founder of Liazon. “Businesses understand that they have to get the most out of their benefit dollars and to provide programs that really matter to their employees.”

Consulting firm Accenture predicted as many as 40 million people would enroll for coverage via private exchanges by 2018, as employees now enrolled in company plans are expected to begin a shift to private exchanges. For example, Walgreen made headlines when it recently announced it will send up to 160,000 employees into a private health exchange run by Aon Hewitt — which has signed up 18 employers this year.

Read also: Aon Hewitt private exchange growing

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