Towers Watson Acquires Liazon to Expand Private Benefit Exchange Offerings

A press release issued today by Towers Watson, the global professional services company, announced that it has acquired Liazon Corporation, one of the leaders in developing and delivering private benefit exchanges for active employees.

The release noted that this acquisition, which follows the purchase of Extend Health in June 2012, solidifies Towers Watson’s strength in the private exchange market through its OneExchange solution. Going forward, Towers Watson said it will continue to enhance Liazon’s private exchange solution and serve the needs of Liazon’s broker, consultant and carrier partners, some of which offer the Liazon product under their own brands.

According to the release, Liazon’s online benefit marketplaces are currently distributed through over 400 insurance brokers, including nine of the top 10 national firms, under either the Bright Choices® brand or as a third-party proprietary exchange.

Towers Watson said it plans to continue these relationships based upon their current terms and use the Liazon name in the market with its broker partners. Towers Watson indicated that it will also continue to offer its OneExchange solution, which primarily serves larger employers. The OneExchange and Liazon solutions together will help organizations of all sizes deliver self- and fully insured benefits to both employees as well as pre- and post-65 retirees in new and cost-effective ways, Towers Watson said.

 

 

Tufts Health Plan to Offer a Defined Contribution Model to Large Employers

GoLocalWorchester.com is reporting today that Tufts Health Plan is the first insurance carrier in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to offer a defined contribution model to large employers – those with 51 or more employees. Called RightChoice, Tufts’ defined contribution model allows an employer to fix a certain dollar amount as its contribution, and employees pay or save the difference, depending on the plan they select.

According to the report,Tufts presents pre-bundled plan sets for employers with 51 to 99 employees – six in Rhode Island and eight in Massachusetts in its online marketplace. For groups with 100 or more employees, Tufts will customize bundles, giving even more plan flexibility. See the full story at GoLocalWorchester.com.

 

Private Exchanges Debated; Fully Insured or Self-Funded?

Should large employers offering employee health plans through a private exchange be doing so on a self-funded or fully insured basis, or should they be bothering with this new concept at all?

According to an article in Health Insurance Exchange, that was a topic for discussion at the recent Self-Insurance Institute of America’s 33rd annual National Education Conference & Expo in Chicago.

Several industry representatives discussed the pros and cons of private exchange companies, whether benefits offered through these exchanges should be fully-insured or self funded and if the exchanges will save employers money in the long run. -See the full story at Health Insurance Exchange.

Most Health Insurers will Pursue Multi-Channel Strategy with Private Exchanges Within the Next Six Months: Survey

A post over on the Acclaris Blog this morning breaks down the results of a survey conducted late this summer by Array Health to find out what health industry leaders are predicting to be the future for private exchanges and defined contribution health plans.

The survey reports that almost 80% of respondents believe that within the next six months health insurers will participate in private exchanges and 70% believe that insurers will participate in both private and public exchange models.

See more at Acclaris.com/blog.

 

Analyst Sees Private Exchanges Helping Group Insurance Sales

Walgreen Co., the nation’s largest drugstore chain, said last week that it will move its coverage to a private insurance exchange run by the benefits consultant Aon Hewitt.

This approach, called defined contribution health insurance, involves giving employees a set amount of money and then letting them pick their own coverage through a private marketplace or exchange that helps them sort out the choices.

Citi analyst Carl McDonald sees the Walgreen announcement as a positive because of the type of business it could deliver to health insurers. He noted that big employers like Walgreen typically pay their own claims and hire insurers only to administer the policies. That type of coverage produces smaller revenue totals for insurers, as opposed to so-called fully insured plans where the managed care company pays the claims as well.

See the full story at LIfeHealthPro.com

 

Walgreen to Give Workers Payments to Purchase Health Plans

Walgreen Co.and another 17 large employers are turning to a new concept of giving them money to buy health benefits via private online marketplaces known as exchanges.

Aon Hewitt,  the large employee benefits consultancy, said Walgreens will be the largest employer thus far to join its Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange, bringing more than 160,000 eligible employees to such coverage in 2014. Aon Hewitt said it could not yet disclose the others coming into the exchange in 2014.

See the full story at Forbes.com

FAQ: How Is Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Changing?

Employers are raising deductibles, giving workers health savings accounts that look like 401(k) plans, mimicking the health law’s online insurance marketplaces and nudging patients to compare prices and shop around for treatments.

Together the moves could eventually affect far more consumers than the law’s Medicaid expansion or health exchanges aimed at the uninsured and scheduled to open Oct. 1. Here’s a rundown.

See the full story at KaiserHealthNews.org

 

The Coming Revolution in Consumer-Driven Care

There is a new industry of “CDHC account administration firms” to manage these accounts and provide support services. [CDHC=Consumer Driven Health Care.]

These firms offer integrated platforms for the three accounts and support consumers with website management, debit and credit cards, and increasing cost and quality information. …these CDHC firms are taking over private insurance.

See the full story at TheRightsideNews.com

Labor Department Rejects Cash-for-Coverage Strategies

Employers should think twice before cutting workers or retirees a check and shipping them off to use the exchanges.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor, has told employers and their brokers just that in a new technical release.

See the full story at BenefitsPro.com

 

Time Warner joins IBM in Moving Retirees to Private Health Insurance Exchanges to Cut Costs

Media and entertainment company Time Warner Inc. plans to move its retired workers off its health plan and provide money to them to purchase coverage on private exchanges at the beginning of next year.

The move, which was earlier reported by Reuters, is similar to a change confirmed by IBM on Saturday.

Both companies plan to allocate money to special accounts for retirees, which they can use in purchasing coverage.

See the full story at WashingtonPost.com