Allison Martiny really didn’t have many options when choosing health insurance for her family at annual open enrollment. Only one of the two plans her employer offered made any sense, and even that didn’t include the dental coverage her kids need.
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No Obamacare connection
This article is about the emergence of “private insurance exchanges,” which have many similarities but no actual connection to the public insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
The public exchange, known formally as the Health Insurance Marketplace, opened Oct. 1 to big crowds and bigger software problems. When it’s working, it enables people who don’t get insurance from their employers to shop for individual policies and, based on their income, potentially qualify for a federal tax credit to help pay for the insurance.
The private exchange is also an online insurance marketplace, but it’s designed for workers who get their insurance through their employers. Under this emerging model, companies give employees a sum of money and send them to a website run by an outside firm to shop for their own insurance. In this case, however, the subsidies come from the employer and not from the government. Only about a million U.S. workers currently use private exchanges, but that number is expected to grow substantially in the next several years.