Charles Schwab + : Private Exchanges Can Right-Size Health Plans for Employees


| 3 min read

Oil and water. Gasoline and fire. Candy and a toddler’s nap time. Goldilocks and the three bears. Some things just don’t go well together. Unfortunately, this list many times also includes employees and their health plans. But, what if we could do in health care what has done for pairing couples and Charles Schwab has done to understand personal finances. Although there are wide variances among employees in regards to income, family health needs and financial obligations, a recent Employer Health Benefits Survey found that 85% of firms offering health benefits in 2014 offer only one type of health plan. This one-size-fits-all approach too often results in ill-fitting plans that don’t match employees’ unique needs and budgets. Some leading benefits consultants contend that a majority of employees are over insured. So how does a company “right-size” its health benefits coverage? The first part of this answer seems obvious: Give employees more choices and let them decide what fits their needs. But the second part is equally important: Make sure to help them make smart, well-informed decisions. Private exchanges can meet both requirements, which is one of the reasons why they have become a popular alternative to the conventional way of delivering health benefits for companies of all sizes. They offer employees a wide variety of major medical health plans and coverage options plus personalized support – both high-touch and high-tech – during enrollment. Ideally, private exchanges will guide employees to find the right match by helping them understand and evaluate the consequences of their choices, especially their financial implications. For example, the GlidePath exchange asks employees some simple, straightforward questions to create a snapshot of their health benefits “personality.” This data is then used in combination with employees’ survey answers about their general health and health insurance preferences (e.g., Health Savings Accounts or low premiums) to compile a list of personalized benefits recommendations. Enrollees can compare the premiums, deductibles, co-insurance levels and other features for each of the various plan options. They can also filter results based on additional criteria. All the while, the total price tags of the benefits are transparent to employees during the shopping process. Employees recognize and appreciate this kind of support. For example, a GlidePath survey found that 87% of employees were satisfied with the overall open enrollment process, with 9 out of 10 finding the website easy to use and 2 out of 3 feeling they were matched to the best-fitting benefits. And for employers, private exchanges not only offer cost predictability, but also encourage employees to be more engaged and effective in managing their health and benefits. Like the baby bear’s porridge for Goldilocks, helping employees right-size their health plans is “just right” for companies that want to provide more substantive benefits than the same old gruel. GlidePath More than 50 Michigan employers and 12,000 people now use GlidePath, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s private health care exchange. GlidePath offers companies an innovative way to manage spending and risk. It can transform the way you finance your company's health insurance coverage. With GlidePath, you can determine your company's health benefits budget and simplify the administrative work that goes along with offering health benefits. For more information or to request a quote, visit Coverage for Companies Coverage for Companies, operated by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is an online private exchange for small groups with up to 50 employees. You determine an amount you'd like to spend on each employee's health insurance coverage. Then, you select a collection of plans to offer your employees. We have HMO and PPO options. Your employees can then shop online and get help finding a plan that fits their needs. For more information or to request a quote, visit
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