Enrollment in private health insurance exchanges doubled in 2015

An estimated 6 million people enrolled in health coverage using privately managed health insurance exchanges in 2015, according to a new report by Accenture.

That's up from 3 million last year.

Accenture's findings show mid-size employers — those with 100 to 2,500 employees — are driving initial growth, as evidenced by the expansion of the consultant-led exchanges servicing this market.

Based on its research, Accenture forecasts that enrollment of employees under 65 years old and dependents enrolling in health coverage using private health insurance exchanges will grow to 12 million in 2016 and 22 million in 2017. Accenture projects that total enrollment will reach 40 million by 2018.

Accenture highlighted factors it sees as driving enrollment growth, and one of those factors was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac tax," which is a 40 percent excise tax on high cost health insurance plans that some employers offer their workers. The tax is set to go into effect in 2018. According to Accenture, the tax could affect as many as 38 percent of large employers and 17 percent of all U.S. businesses if insufficient action is taken. Accenture projects that private health insurance exchange enrollment will spike in 2017 as employers look to avoid looming penalties for "Cadillac" plans.

Additionally, Accenture pointed to employers' drive to meet the expectations of consumers, who want choice and flexibility.

This was the third analysis and projection of U.S. enrollment in private health insurance exchanges conducted by Accenture. Accenture focused on individuals and dependents under the age of 65 who receive group health insurance through an employer, and calculated current 2015 enrollment by assessing enrollment activity in private health insurance exchanges through March 2015. Where relevant, findings are included from an Accenture survey of 2,709 U.S. employees, between the ages of 18 and 64, who receive health benefits from their employer. The research was conducted in March 2015.

 

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