Drugstore giant Walgreens is making big changes to its workers' health care plan. Employees will now participate in what's called a "private exchange"—they will shop for their own healthcare on a public, online marketplace with different insurance companies offering different plans.
The announcement comes as the Affordable Care Act begins to take effect, and health industry experts suspect that other companies will follow Walgreens' lead.
Steve Wojcik, the vice president of a non-profit representing large companies, said there are a number of factors driving the trend. "I think the rise in health care cost is a big factor," he said. "Employers want to see more predictable costs, less uncertainty, also they want to simplify their administration of health benefits, and the private exchange takes a lot of the administrative functions over from the employer."
On the one hand, Wojcik said, the private exchanges can mean that workers have more choice of insurance companies. But on the other hand, it could put employees on the hook for a larger percentage of their healthcare costs. Wojcik said each company will have to weigh the pros and cons of such exchanges.
To Hear Host Amy Eddings' full conversation with Steve Wojcik, click on the audio above.