This fall, tens of thousands of U.S. workers will learn that they’re getting their health benefits next year in a radical new way: Their employers will give them a fixed sum of money and let them choose their plan from an online marketplace.
More health-industry players are launching online employer marketplaces, known as private exchanges, that let employers offer their workers a range of choices to shop from. Companies now jumping in include benefits-consulting firms like Xerox’s Buck Consultants, Marsh & McLennan, MMC +1.31% Mercer and Towers Watson,TW +6.17% as well as insurance brokerages such as Willis Group HoldingsWSH +0.41% and Digital Insurance.
Insurers are creating their own versions, with Aetna AET -0.34% planning to launch a “proprietary” marketplace model next year. WellPoint WLP -0.62% already has one, while UnitedHealth Group‘s UNH +0.26% Optum health-services arm owns an exchange operator.
The private exchanges for employers are separate from the government-operated marketplaces that are being created under the federal health law.