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Business & Economy

Private Health Care Exchanges Coming To NC

a pharmicist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

At least two private health insurance exchanges will soon be launching in North Carolina. 

The NC Chamber and a company called Digital Benefit Advisors are opening websites next month that will act as private marketplaces for health insurance.  Leaders for both organizations say they're designed for employees of companies that might be scaling back their insurance policies.

North Carolina Chamber COO Jim Simpson says the idea is to encourage competition and decrease the cost of insurance.

"It's rising more than inflation and more than wages.  That simply is unsustainable," Simpson says.

"What we really need is as much competition in the marketplace as possible to hopefully help drive down those costs.  This defined contribution model is where we think the market is going."

The idea is similar to the original purpose of the Affordable Care Act, which created exchanges that are meant to attract several providers and drive down prices, but Simpson says the private exchange is directed at a different group of people.

"Our primary targets are companies, most of which currently have health insurance, but simply can't sustain the increasing costs,"  he says.

"We hope and expect that in lieu of dropping coverage altogether, that many of them will opt to move away from a defined benefit plan to more of a defined contribution model and maintain some level of coverage for their employees."

Private exchanges can not provide government subsidies like the federal health care program, but some employees can get a cash allowance for a policy.  Simpson says the Chamber hopes to attract at least three providers for the exchange, which is set to launch by the end of next week.

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