Source: http://www.liazon.com

An exchange is an online store where employees can purchase benefits. Exchanges offer multiple options of health insurance plans, and may also offer other benefits, such as dental, vision, life, disability, and other options. Exchanges that are “private” are run by industry, while “public” exchanges are run by the government.

In most cases, the employer uses a defined contribution strategy to give each employee a set amount of money to purchase benefits. The employees and their families can then go shopping in the exchange with the money allocated by their employer and add their own if needed. Depending on the exchange, employees can receive guidance and education about the plans to help them make purchasing decisions.