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About 250 firms plan to offer health benefits next year via Mercer's health exchange

About 250 firms plan to offer health benefits next year via Mercer's health exchange

Nearly 250 employers will offer health care benefits to current and retired employees through Mercer L.L.C.'s “Marketplace” private health insurance exchange in 2015, the New York-based benefits consultant announced on Monday.

One hundred and seventy employers will provide group health care coverage to roughly 440,000 eligible employees through Mercer's exchange in the upcoming plan year, and another 77 plan to use the exchange to provide retiree health care coverage for 60,000 eligible former employees, Mercer said in a statement.

All told, the projected enrollment numbers for the 2015 plan year represent nearly five times as many employers and employees serviced through Mercer's exchange compared with totals for the 2014 plan year, during which 52 companies offered employee or retiree health plan coverage through the “Marketplace” platform.

“The growth in people and companies attracted to our exchange platforms is a powerful demonstration of the broad applicability of Mercer Marketplace solutions,” Julio A. Portalatin, Mercer's president and CEO, said in the company's statement. “Our clients and their employees are confirming that we offer the most flexible and complete private exchange in the market that meets the real needs of a wider spectrum of companies.”

In addition to the companies planning to offer group coverage for employees and retirees, another 27 employers have indicated they will use the exchange to provide voluntary benefits or access to individual health care coverage.

In an interview with Business Insurance, Sharon Cunninghis, a senior Mercer partner in New York, said she believed the sharp growth in exchange participation compared to a year ago was driven in part by the scalability of Mercer's exchange model, noting that the employers participating in the exchange for 2015 range in size from 100 to more than 100,000 full-time workers.

“We have the flexibility for employers to start off by offering just a voluntary benefits package through the platform and can later decide to move their full health care benefits program onto the exchange,” Ms. Cunninghis said.

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