Traditional group health coverage agents and brokers may have succeeded at fending off the private exchange programs.
Analysts at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Education Trust have included data supporting that possibility in a summary of results from their major U.S. employer survey,
The term “private exchange” has been notoriously difficult to define, but only 4% of survey employers with 50 or more workers say they are using a private exchange program to provide coverage this year. That’s the same as in 2016.
Similarlly, the employers surveyed appeared to be using what they identified as private exchange programs to provide health coverage for just 2% of the covered workers at employers with 50 or more workers. That percentage was the same as in 2016.
Employer use of private exchange programs was higher at the smallest employers included in the private exchange survey results: those with 50 to 199 covered workers.
About 5% of the employers with 50 to 199 covered workers are using private exchange programs.
The Kaiser analysts found that the existing single-state association health plans are about as popular as private exchange programs. At employers with 3 to 49 covered workers, for example, about 7% reported using association health plans, according to the Kaiser/HRET analysts.
Some Republicans in Congress want to expand the reach of association health plans by encouraging efforts to create of multi-state association health plans.
The Kaiser/HRET analysts also reported that:
The average annual premium for individual coverage increased 4% between 2016 and 2017, to $6,690.
The average annual premium for family coverage increased 3%, to $18,764.
The percentage of all firms with three or more workers offering health benefits fell to 53%, from 56% in 2016.
Employers with 50 or more workers were about as likely to offer health benefits as before, but the percentage of employers with three to 50 workers that now offer benefits has fallen to 50%, from 53% in 2016. The Kaiser/HRET 2017 small-group health benefits offer rate for 2017 is the lowest the analysts have recorded since at least 1999.
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