Private benefit exchanges continue to grow – albeit slowly – but the pace of change is expected to pick up as employers consider their benefit options for 2016.

“Feels like activity is starting to brew for the upcoming enrollment season,” one exchange executive observed.

Since the July posting of the Private Benefit Exchange Index, the eight exchange operators participating in the PBE Index’s data collection effort report that more than 300 employers have moved to an online benefits marketplace. This, in turn, has led to an increase of 28,000 employees and 46,000 more lives now being covered by insurance plans sold through those exchanges.

Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser’s Private Benefit Exchange Index was created to track the growth of the online benefit marketplaces.

To compile the PBE Index, EBA and EBN are collecting 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 are aggregating and updating the operators’ numbers – focusing in particular on employee enrollment, which many experts agree is the best indicator of growth.

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, Hanna, Lockton, Medica, Simple Insurance, Softheon and Solstice. The information provided by these brokers, insurers and technology-platform companies is self-reported and rounded.

The PBE Index is complemented by a number of other EBA and EBN private exchange content offerings, including a series of SourceMedia Research reports on the benefit marketplaces, a fact-filled directory of exchange players, a dedicated web channel and a weekly newsletter featuring the latest benefit exchange news, analysis and insights.

The PBE Index is the first attempt to regularly track the growth of private exchanges and the editors expect the numbers to generate a fair amount of discussion. Feedback is welcome.

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