A 9-million person market is a powerful one to tap. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents Blues plans across the country, is the latest to launch a retiree private HIX, coming this summer. There is keen interest in the upcoming exchange, says Maureen Sullivan, senior vice president of strategic services at BCBSA, due to pent up demand from the 8-9 million retirees in the U.S. who demand such a solution, according to BCBSA data.

The Blues exchange is aimed at retirees familiar with BCBS plans who wanted to “stay Blue, [but] there wasn’t a solution for them,” Sullivan says. “We saw a gap in the market and launched this retiree exchange.”

It is part of a continued upswing in the retiree HIX market, explains Cary Grace, CEO of Aon Exchange Solutions. “Whenever you have a growth market like this, you will attract capital and competition,” she says.

The retiree private health insurance exchange market is seeing “really strong, consistent adoption,” she says. Part of the growth is from companies recognizing the financial benefit, Grace says. Transitioning retirees onto an exchange can often lead to “significant” cost savings of 20% to 50% for individuals by moving to a “multi-carrier exchange strategy which allows retirees to find comparable or better health coverage”, she explains.

In general, employers can also reduce their current group-based retiree health care subsidy by 20% to 50% by moving to a multi-carrier exchange strategy, which allows retirees to find comparable or better health coverage.

The next frontier

“Look at how the exchange market has evolved,” Grace says. “You have seen pretty steady adoption on the private side. …. What we’re excited about [is the] emergence of public entities to adopt retiree exchanges.”

Those public entities, such as colleges and universities, are likely to be the next wave to make the move to a retiree exchange, Grace says.

Both Aon and BCBSA also expect to add ancillary products to their retiree exchanges. “We have seen more energy around and questions [about] offering those types of solutions,” Grace says. “Yet, the focus so far has been on how do you make the transition from a medical standpoint.”

Since retirees and companies are having such a “great experience,” she says, they will be looking into expanding lines of coverage.

BCBSA’s Sullivan agrees, saying ancillary products are on the drawing board for the BCBSA exchange.

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