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Employees stick with health exchange insurers, plans

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Most employees receiving health insurance coverage through private exchanges stay with the same plan and insurer during open enrollment, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.

Among employees who renewed coverage in 2015 in the Aon Active Health Exchange, only 20% chose plans with coverage levels different than their current plan, with 12% opting for leaner plan designs and 8% opting for richer coverage.

In addition, only 16% of enrollees switched insurers during open enrollment, with 77% of those individuals citing price and 5% saying that they changed plans because their physicians no longer were in the insurer’s network, according to the analysis.

“People moved around as prices changed, which is exactly what we expected in a consumer-based retail marketplace,” Ken Sperling, Aon Hewitt’s national health exchange strategy leader in Norwalk, Connecticut, said in a statement.

“But when price was not a driver, most consumers stayed where they were both in terms of plans and insurance companies even though they had the ability to easily switch. This leads us to believe that they understood the choices they made in the first year of the exchange and were happy with their decisions,” Mr. Sperling said.

In looking at coverage levels, 32% of individuals in 2015 enrolled in the least generous plans, known as Bronze plans, up from 30% in 2014: 44% chose Silver plans, up from 36% in 2014; 16% chose Gold plans, down from 22% in 2014; and 8% enrolled in the richest plans — known as Platinum plans — down from 12% in 2014.

The analysis involves a private exchange Aon Hewitt launched in 2012, with the first policies effective the following year. In 2015, 33 employers with more than 850,000 employees and dependents are participating in the Aon Active Health Exchange.