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SEATTLE, June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated three million people currently receive employer health benefits through a private exchange, according to new report by Accenture released at the annual America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Institute in Seattle.
Accenture's analysis shows three-times as many people enrolled in private exchanges for 2014 benefits as the company originally forecast last year. And Accenture expects this trend to continue, projecting total enrollment in private exchanges will ultimately surpass state and federally funded exchanges, reaching 40 million by 2018.
"Private exchanges are experiencing hyper growth and will significantly change the role consumers have in personalizing their own employer health benefits," said Rich Birhanzel, managing director, Accenture Health Administration Services. "With the first material open enrollment period concluded last year, private exchanges have an unprecedented opportunity to differentiate and prove the value of this new model over traditional self-managed plans."
The rapid growth of private exchanges has expanded benefit choices but also presented employees with important financial trade-off decisions. Of those currently enrolled in private exchanges, Accenture estimates 25 percent purchased less health coverage (measured in actuarial value) than they had previously. Those choices may have been to decrease monthly premiums, but they also add out-of-pocket costs for patients with higher deductibles.
This "benefit trade-off" also accelerates the amount of reimbursement that hospitals and doctors need to collect directly from patients. Accenture's research estimates that out-of-pocket collections from patients with employer-sponsored plans will increase by 7 percent – or an additional $3.7 billion – by 2018. This also adds to the difficulties that health providers currently face with patient collections, as the American Hospital Association estimates more than $45 billion in uncompensated care was provided by U.S. hospitals in 2012 alone.
Accenture (NYSE: ACN) is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 289,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world's most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is http://www.accenture.com.
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