The Private Benefit Exchange Index ended 2016 with 37,800 employers having moved workers to an exchange, 2.8 million employees having signed up for benefits through one of the online marketplaces and 5.6 million people covered by benefit plans sold through the sites.

While the Index in December was flat against the previous month, since June 2015, when the PBE Index was launched, the number of employers using exchanges has increased 144%, the number of employees enrolling in benefits through the marketplaces has risen 92% and the number of lives covered by the plans sold on the platforms has jumped 100%.

And, as operators begin to report their numbers from the recent open-enrollment period, the numbers are expected to rise.

“Over the past decade, it had been expected that private benefit exchanges would become a common way for employers to meet their workers’ diverse personal and financial needs by providing an ever-growing array of benefits. While the growth of private exchanges hasn’t kept pace with some of the more enthusiastic early predictions, adoption rates among private-sector employers have been steadily rising,” says a December SHRM report titled “How Private Exchanges Are Coming of Age.” “Today, more employees and dependents are enrolling in benefits private exchanges as the number of available products has expanded.”

Continued tracking
Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser will continue to track the month-over-month growth in the online benefit marketplaces.

To create the PBE Index, EBA and EBN collect data from eight leading exchange operators on the number of employers using each platform, the number of employees enrolled in benefits through each platform and the number of lives covered by the policies sold through each platform. Every month, the editors aggregate and update the operators’ numbers.

The eight exchanges selected by the editors to participate in the PBE Index are a representative cross-section of the operator market and include benefitsCONNECT, bswift, Connecture, Frenkel Benefits, Lockton, Marcum, Medica and Softheon. The information provided by these brokers, insurers and technology-platform companies is self-reported and rounded.

For more information on the PBE Index, to access a directory of private benefit exchange operators, and to see the latest PBE news, go to employeebenefitadviser.com/exchanges.

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