Private exchanges increasingly will feature single-carrier rather than multicarrier networks as well as more expansive product lines, according to a survey of more than 80 health care leaders who attended last month’s 2014 Blue National Summit in Orlando, Fla.

It was conducted by Array Health, a provider of private HIX technology. Survey respondents included health insurers, brokers, third-party administrators, software or services companies, and state and federal government agencies.

Fifty-six percent of those who work for health insurers indicated they will use a single-carrier private HIX as a sales channel for their products before the end of the year, while such sales are expected to target all market segments. In addition, 75 percent of respondents believe most health insurers will offer a single-carrier private HIX by the end of 2016 and 93 percent predicted the same by 2018.

“What we hear from health insurers is that they are interested in a single-carrier approach because it enables them to build direct and ongoing relationships with consumers while giving them control over product selection and presentation,” explains Array Health CEO Jonathan Rickert.

He also thought it was particularly noteworthy that such a high percentage of health insurers surveyed said they would pursue a multicarrier strategy in private exchanges (32 percent).

While the findings suggest most private HIXs may be wed to one carrier rather than play the field, greater choice is seen in terms of the product suite. For example, 80 percent of health insurer respondents believe most of the exchanges will offer core medical, dental and vision plans alongside ancillary products by 2015.

Private HIX growth also was forecast, with 57 percent of respondents predicting most employers will offer their benefits through an exchange by the end of 2015. Health insurers had an even more bullish outlook (63 percent made that prediction).

Another noteworthy finding is that health care leaders who were interviewed in 2014 expressed greater optimism about defined contribution strategies being embraced within the next three years than those who were polled last year.

“While the survey is only a snap shot, the responses are in line with analysts’ predictions and support projections that explosive growth in private exchanges will likely occur in the next two to three years,” according to Rickert.

Also see: Private Exchange Enrollment Hits 3M

Array Health also recently announced that its private HIX solution would be offered to groups of all sizes that are served by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona effective after March 1, 2015. The Array Spectrum HIX will support both defined benefit and defined contribution approaches, which many employers reportedly are requesting, as well as core medical, dental and vision plans with additional ancillary products expected in future years.

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