The "Slow March" to Mainstream Exchange Adoption

Rhonda Marcucci, founder of Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), is a respected industry, observer, speaker and author of articles on topics pertaining to the HR and Benefits Administration technology and outsourcing industry. For up-to-the-minute insights from industry conferences, follow Rhonda on Twitter.


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The "Slow March" to Mainstream Exchange Adoption

Posted on 07/31/2014

In July, several from the Gruppo Marcucci team attended the Private Healthcare Exchanges Conference; primarily geared to employers and broker/consultants. The take-away: the “early adopter” phase of exchanges is over and we’re now in what we call the “slow march” to mainstream adoption.

Taking the pulse of attendees, it seems exchanges are generally working and employers and employees are happy. Uptake remains slow, however, as employers understand the decision to move to an exchange is a big commitment. Unlike 2013, there have been few new, big announcements this year and none are expected before year-end.

Brokers are recognizing they need an exchange strategy if they’re to stay in the game. Fittingly, there are a growing number of products available for brokers (and employers).

Gruppo Marcucci is pleased to share some of the more interesting insights from conference speakers.

  • Private exchanges don’t address the #1 cost in healthcare today: chronic disease. The good news is exchanges will evolve and offer tools to keep people healthier. Also, PPACA is raising consumer awareness of health issues…both positive steps towards reducing chronic disease.
  • Focus on healthcare cost for employees should be ongoing (not just at OE). Help employees make good decisions year-round, e.g., choosing a facility to get an x-ray for a sprained ankle. Promote available decision support tools! They’re new, so employees won’t know much about them and may need help using them.
  • Consumer expectations of exchanges include speed and convenience, seamless experience, personalization, data transparency and democratization, and choice.
  • Health is just one component of well-being. Exchanges accommodate the broadening scope of well-being services, including lifestyle—how you look and feel. Further… “Benefits” is an expanding category. Consider financial benefits such as ID theft protection available through an exchange (benefits) marketplace. Employers are on board now that exchanges assume the admin burden! Everyone wins with this model.
  • The next exchange iteration (within 5 years) will include group purchasing, driven by ongoing need to reduce costs. Marketplace winners will be those who aggregate the most lives.
  • Keynoter David Smith (Leavitt Partners) offered a big picture view of exchanges for 2014 and beyond:
    • Look for “iterative maturation.” It’s a new market, it’s messy and the acumen will change.
    • Care modality will evolve and change, e.g., on-site clinics, telemedicine, etc. Payment and delivery system reform will be slow, but will happen.
    • Big data will solve discrete problems.
    • Collaborative IQ is mission critical. Stakeholders must come together. Roles are changing.

If you want to chat about any of these insights, email Rhonda Marcucci at Rhonda@gruppomarcucci-usa.com or call 312-690-2690.

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About Gruppo Marcucci

Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., provides outsourcing intelligence and associated consulting to stakeholders in the Benefits and HR Technology & Outsourcing industry. Our in-depth understanding of the service provider market and our vast experience sourcing and implementing solutions is key to our clients achieving full operational success.

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