Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
Towers Watson, a global professional services company, announced the launch of OneExchange.
Building on Towers Watson's 2012 acquisition of Extend Health, OneExchange offers employers both private and public exchange-based health insurance options for their full- and part-time workers, and for all retirees.
According to the company, OneExchange makes it easy for employers to manage the coverage, quality and cost of private and public health plan choices for all segments of their workforce and retiree populations through a single exchange platform.
"Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act establishes guaranteed issue and standard plan designs for all individuals, and federal subsidies for those who meet certain eligibility requirements," said Bryce Williams, managing director for Exchange Solutions at Towers Watson. "It also creates public exchanges, or marketplaces, as a mechanism for individuals to obtain health plans."
"Employers that decide an exchange is right for some or all of their workforce and retirees can provide access to OneExchange and realize the benefits of these regulatory changes," said Williams. "They can use OneExchange to fund and oversee the quality and cost of their health care coverage with the counsel of a trusted and experienced advisor from a unified platform."
Extend Health said that OneExchange builds on its health insurance exchange platform to deliver seamlessly integrated exchange solutions:
-Extend Health operates private Medicare exchange, which has more than 250 employers, including 45 Fortune 500 companies. Extend Health has helped more than 500,000 retirees select from thousands of private Medicare plans from more than 80 national and regional insurance companies. Licensed benefit advisors, using state-of-the art decision support tools and service center routing systems, have logged more than three million phone calls helping retirees choose coverage that fits their needs.
-Services provided include transition support from initial financial analysis for employers, to plan comparison, purchase and enrollment, and post-enrollment support and advocacy for individuals making coverage choices.
-Advanced analytics and reporting tools help employers with strategic decision making and health coverage management for all plan holders.
"In the private Medicare market, Extend Health has met the broad benefit needs of employers and consumers alike," said Mark Maselli, managing director for Towers Watson's Health and Group Benefits business. "Employers' health benefit decisions must reflect their values and unique workforce needs. Those that decide an exchange is right for any part of their organization will find OneExchange's diverse solutions compelling."
The OneExchange solutions
OneExchange solutions available now include ExtendRetiree, which provides transition assistance for Medicare-eligible retirees moving to an exchange.
Also available now for ExtendRetiree is BenefitView, a management dashboard that gives employers real-time information about the progress of retirees as they evaluate and choose plans.
Additional OneExchange solutions will be triggered by final regulations and ACA health plan product offerings, as well as Towers Watson's continued efforts to drive development in the delivery of health care benefits. New solutions will:
-Connect challenging workforce segments such as pre-65 retirees and part-time, contract or seasonal workers to plans offered on public exchanges
-Provide financial analysis, modeling tools and consulting to help employers decide whether to use private or public exchange solutions -- and, if so, how they will deliver value for various segments of their populations
-Enable employers to transition their full-time, active employees to exchanges offering individual health plans or group-based plans with features that engage participants in their health care decisions
-Extend the BenefitView management dashboard to integrate analytics and reporting for all exchange solutions across all populations
Added Williams, "We expect the vast majority of employers to proceed thoughtfully in leveraging ACA and private and public exchanges. To help guide them, Towers Watson's OneExchange offers a powerful combination of health care strategy and exchange solutions expertise -- no matter which path they choose."
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