Highmark Inc. is banking on customer-driven private health insurance exchanges as a key growth area for group coverage over the next four to five years.
"We're looking aggressively to move groups to private exchanges," Bill Brown, manager of digital distribution at the Pennsylvania-based insurer, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "We flipped from a defensive to an aggressive strategy. We've done a lot of demos for national accounts."
Highmark, the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliate in the country, provides health insurance policies to more than 5 million people in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. It launched private exchanges for group coverage in January 2011, with "full scale" operations in place by January 2012. Analysts predict that percentage of consumers using HIX will grow from 1 to 3 percent now to as high as 40 percent in 2018.
"We are so early in the evolution of these exchanges, [that] to have growth that quickly shows how powerful this technology is," Brown says.
"More Depth with the Group'
Highmark is working to establish defined-contribution private exchanges that are consumer-driven and offers "many types of products." Beyond medical coverage Highmark's private exchanges offer dental, vision, and other types of consumer policies.