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Large Employers View HIX as Viable

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 29, 2013

Survey data released by a national business group of large employers shows that while they do not have active plans to make a shift, members view the exchanges as a cost-effective option for certain population groups.

Although many states have taken an adversarial stance when it comes to public health insurance exchanges, large employers see the marketplaces as a cost effective alternative for certain population groups, including COBRA participants, young retirees, and part-time employees.

That is according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Business Group on Health.

Employers are not saying that they plan to take active steps to shift these population groups to the exchanges—a common concern—rather, they view the exchanges as a "viable option on an individual basis," said NBHG president Helen Darling, in a telephone interview.

Some 41% of employers reported that COBRA plan participants will find the public health exchanges to be the most cost-effective option for them while 26% said some of their pre-65 retirees will opt to join the exchanges. In addition, 20% of employers responded that some of their part-time employees could move to the public exchanges.

The findings are part of an annual employer survey released by NBGH, an association whose members include more than 365 large, national employers, including American Express, CBS Corp., and Time Warner. More than 100 employers, most with more than 10,000 employees, responded to the survey.

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