Originally posted October 03, 2013 by Andrea Davis on https://ebn.benefitnews.com

The state and federally facilitated health care exchanges are not a realistic option for active employees, according to one expert. Bryce Williams, managing director of exchange solutions for Towers Watson maintains that while the public exchanges offer a good solution for early retirees and COBRA-eligible participants, “it’s not yet a viable alternative to move [active employees] to state or public exchanges.”

Employers showed little confidence in public exchanges, according to a recent survey from Towers Watson that was released prior to the public exchange launch earlier this week. Eighty-eight percent of employers said they were not confident that the public health insurance exchanges would provide a viable alternative to employer-sponsored coverage for active full-time employees in 2014.

“They were prescient in terms of what would happen given the complexity of the launch,” says Williams.

Employers expressed skepticism even heading into 2015, with 71% saying they were not confident the public exchanges would provide a viable alternative to employer-sponsored coverage for active full-time employees.

“We believe later this fall public exchanges will right themselves and be in good shape, but certainly they’ve gotten off to a bumpy start,” says Williams, adding he continues to see employers not making any big changes this year. “They want to see results.”

Still, “public exchanges continue to be a great alternative to early retiree coverage, to any of the mini-meds they’re providing to seasonal and part-time workers – this [public exchange] is a vastly better ecosystem and [offers] better coverage,” he says.

Towers Watson runs three private exchanges: OneExchange Retiree, a Medicare exchange for retirees; OneExchange Active, a self-insured exchange for active employees; and OneExchange Access, a concierge service that connects part-time employees, early retirees, dependents and others who aren’t eligible for employer-sponsored coverage, to the state exchanges.