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Benefitfocus Hopes ACA Stability Will Thaw Employer Decisionmaking

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Executives at Benefitfocus Inc. are hoping that current federal health insurance rules will stabilize, and that increasing regulatory stability will help large employers move ahead with efforts to update benefits programs.

Shawn Jenkins, the benefits distribution and administration technology company’s chief executive officer, did not express any opinions about the current Affordable Care Act system itself, but he said today, during a conference call with securities analysts, that the past two years of “regulatory drama” seem to have frozen some large employers’ benefit program decisionmaking.

Now that it looks as if any imminent federal changes could be incremental, rather than sweeping, that could free pent-up employer demand for help with improving their benefits systems, Jenkins said.

Jenkins and other Benefitfocus executives talked about their hopes for stability Thursday, during a conference call they held to go over third-quarter earnings with securities analysts.

(Related: ACORD Sets Benefits Enrollment Standard

The company is reporting a $6.7 million net loss for the third quarter on $62 million in revenue, compared with a net loss of $8.6 million on $58 million in revenue for the third quarter of 2016.

One concern was uneven sales, and the company has brought in new sales leadership and expanded sales development and training programs, Jenkins said.

But units of Aflac Inc. and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. are now using the Benefitfocus system as a distribution platform, and about 900 large employers are using Benefitfocus technology to support their benefits programs, Jenkins said.

In past years, Benefitfocus talked about its “Benefitfocus Marketplace” program as a provider of private exchange services. This year, company executives did not appear to make much use of the term “private exchange” in their conference call remarks or earnings release. They did use the term once in the form 10-Q quarterly report they filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

—Read ‘Senior Officials’ Want to Close, Exec Says on ThinkAdvisor.

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