ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Even though many Americans are unaware of the impact health insurance exchanges are expected to have on the U.S. healthcare system, roughly one-out-of-five will purchase their health benefits from an exchange in the next three years, according to a new report by Accenture (NYSE:ACN). Although 83 percent of U.S. consumers are unfamiliar with private health insurance exchanges, an online marketplace for people to choose their employer-sponsored health benefits, Accenture estimates that their total enrollment will ultimately surpass state and federally funded public exchanges, as early as 2018.
“The issue right now is a lack of consumer readiness for exchanges, in general, but in particular for private exchanges,” said Rich Birhanzel, managing director of Accenture Health Administration Services. “While private exchange providers have been largely focused on educating employers on the benefits they offer, almost no education has been provided to the employees who are considering enrolling in these health plans.”
On Oct. 1, millions of U.S. consumers will begin to enroll in public exchange under the Affordable Care Act, but many private exchanges are also planned to launch this year. While Accenture estimates that only one million individuals are expected to enroll in private exchanges by the end of 2013, that number is expected to reach 40 million individuals by 2018, surpassing the 31 million individuals likely to enroll in state-funded public exchanges.
In addition, Accenture estimates that private health insurance exchanges will account for 56 percent of the total exchange market in just five years. Accenture research indicates that roughly one-in-four consumers (27 percent), who have health benefits through their employer today, will receive their benefits through a private health insurance exchange by 2018.
“Private exchanges represent a significant shift for consumers, by allowing employees to ‘shop’ for their insurance products while employers change the way they contribute to benefits,” said Birhanzel. “Consumers will need to fully understand their options and the impact of their decisions, requiring consistent engagement from providers and insurers to support informed decision making.”
The research report results from extensive Accenture analysis of current market demand and an online survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers. The survey was fielded March 2013 and targeted consumers between the ages of 18 and 64 who receive health insurance through their employer or other affiliation, their significant other or individually.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 261,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012. Its home page is www.accenture.com.
Through Accenture Health Administration Services, we help payers and health organizations significantly reduce costs, increase enrollment and leverage new market opportunities. Our services combine management consulting, technology and outsourcing to help streamline functions and improve the performance of administrative functions.