Health Care Reform, CieloStar and You
At CieloStar, we are dedicated to enabling technology to help employers and employees make better health choices during this transitional time and beyond. We will continue to provide you with the benefits administration expertise you have come to value. At the same time, our comprehensive service offerings continue to grow and evolve.
One of these new offerings is the CieloChoice private exchange, which is uniquely positioned to help employers in the new health care environment. As more employers turn to defined contribution benefit plans, CieloChoice simplifies the management of health care and other benefits.
What is a private exchange?
A private health insurance exchange is an online marketplace where employees shop for insurance. A private exchange offers a variety of insurance plans for consumers to choose from, including health, dental, Medicare, vision and more. The concept is similar to travel websites that allow consumers to shop for airfare, hotels and rental cars in one place.
Private exchanges have been a hot topic since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. While private exchanges existed prior to the ACA, the health care reform law gave them a place as a prominent fixture in the purchasing model for the health insurance marketplace.
How are private and public exchanges different?
The public exchanges are governed and operated by each state, with or without the assistance of the federal government, and are required to be operational before 2014. While the public exchanges will provide eligible consumers with mandated plan options and subsidized premiums, private exchanges offer a wide variety of plans from private insurance companies.
A true private exchange, like CieloChoice or EKydos, CieloStar's private exchange for individuals, provides various interactive and transactional resources, including plan comparison tools, decision support technology, application submission resources, a call center with licensed insurance representatives and more.
Who is a private exchange right for?
Many employers have been shifting more health insurance premium costs to employees for several years now, forcing many employees to look for individual insurance on their own or select the least expensive group plan offered by their employer. Rather than shifting more costs, assessing annual health care spending and evaluating plan utilization, employers are quickly migrating to defined contributions that employees manage themselves through private exchanges.
Exchanges are a must for large and midsized employers offering this defined contributions who want to provide decisions support for employees. Associations, affinity groups and brokers wanting to offer the exchange as a product to its member organizations can also benefit.
Keys to a successful private exchange
The private exchange concept is growing in appeal to employers throughout the United States, and this will continue as the public exchanges become a reality in 2014. A vendor like Cielostar can properly coordinate all employer and employee functions within a private exchange and integrate all components within one environment.
The following features are optimal for a successful private exchange:
- Ability to educate employers on the defined contribution funding model and work with them to establish an annual health care budget
- Ability to seamlessly establish an HRA
- Ability to educate employees about the benefits program and process
- Decision support tools to assist employees with their shopping experience
- Online insurance resources for employees to directly apply for the coverage they need
- Integrated support staff to assist with all inquiries, including education, insurance shopping, reimbursements and more
A recent study by Booz & Company indicated employers and consumers showed stronger interest in a private exchange versus a public exchange.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation provides comprehensive information on health care reform, including information relevant to employers, at http://healthreform.kff.org