We’ve been tracking employer adoption of, and interest in, private health exchanges through Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans for the past few years. Currently 6% of large employers either use an exchange now or will implement one this year for 2017. That’s doubled from 3% using an exchange in 2014 – a strong rate of growth, even if the numbers are still small. Perhaps more telling, more than a fourth of large employers say they are considering moving to an exchange within five years.
To look more closely at how one exchange works, we must turn to a different source of data: the 222 employers that now provide benefits to their active employees through Mercer Marketplace. We now have three years of data behind us on the cost reductions our clients are experiencing with Mercer Marketplace.
- On average, they have saved 9% (and up to 15% in some cases) on their benefits plans. That averages $975 per enrolled employee.
- While the average health benefit cost per employee increased 3.8% from 2014 to 2015 across the market, Mercer Marketplace clients experienced an average year-over-year increase of only 1.6%.
- One of the keys to savings on both sides – employer and employee -- is that employees are more informed in their decision-making. For some, that means realizing the benefits of enrolling in higher-deductible plans. In fact, 56% of enrolled employees choose high deductible plans on Mercer Marketplace. That’s much higher than the average 29% enrollment reported by large employers that offer a HSA-eligible consumer-directed health plans as a choice.
Contributing to these savings is the enhanced purchasing power, network influence, state-of-the-art wellness program and buying coalitions that are all part of the Mercer Marketplace value proposition. And, as Tracy Watts describes in her recent post, these savings are achieved while the employer’s administrative burden gets lighter, not heavier.