Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the impetus for launching a private insurance exchange?
The Affordable Care Act has created complexity, confusion, and uncertainty for both employers and individuals. Through the Virginia Benefits Market we seek to simplify, streamline, and remove barriers wherever possible, while at the same time providing choice and flexibility.
2. Is this exchange for employers or individual consumers?
Although the user experience will differ, the Virginia Benefits Market will support both employers and individual consumers.
3. If you are an individual, why not just use healthcare.gov?
The Federal exchange simply provides access to health insurance. Virginia Benefits Market has some very unique tools that allow a consumer to model their expected utilization, and thus have a much better idea of what their total health care spend will be. Moreover, individuals will have access to additional coverage for vision, dental, life, and others that healthcare.gov simply does not provide. As a result, people have direct control over the kinds of benefits they have.
4. What are you hearing from members regarding health coverage?
Overwhelmingly, the most frequent response is that the “new” health insurance system is too expensive, complicated, and cumbersome. Although we cannot yet impact the cost of premiums with the platform, Virginia Benefits Market certainly streamlines and simplifies the process of offering employee benefits.
5. Is there interest in moving to a defined contribution approach?
We are betting that there will be a shift to a defined contribution approach. We are also betting that many employers do not understand the details of that option so part of our process will include education on the benefits of the model. A defined contribution approach provides the opportunity for employers to budget for the defined contribution and a set increase each year which brings an enormous amount of certainty to one of a company’s historically most uncertain processes.
6. What are the advantages for members?
We see advantages for our members’ employees because in the current model, everyone receives the same benefits. An individual may have outstanding vision coverage but no need for it. With a defined contribution, the individual can tailor their coverage to their personal needs. The benefit for employers comes with the long-term predictability and certainty it provides their business.
7. How did you come to select the insurance carrier(s) for this?
We took input from members as to whom they were currently insured; we spoke to insurance professionals that serve all across the Commonwealth; and, we leveraged the more than 20 years of experience that ChamberSolutions has in this market. In doing so, we were able to identify and recruit carriers that could best fit the varied needs of all size employers as well as individual consumers. The process was both extensive and exhaustive.
8. What role will Chambers play?
Chambers will play an educational role. It will be up to the chambers of commerce across Virginia to make sure that companies (their members) understand the options with this private exchange and the benefits it can provide. The hope is that by bringing the right parties to the table – carriers, insurance professionals, a solid enrollment and administrative platform – that Virginia Benefits Market will provide a conduit to help facilitate a resource that benefits employers and their employees alike.
9. Who are your technology partners?
The employer group platform is hosted and administered by Minneapolis, MN based CieloStar. They bring more than 20 years experience in benefits administration to the market. They have also launched similar chamber-sponsored private exchanges in several other states.
Our individual platform is powered by BeneFinder of Richmond, VA. They have crafted a highly unique platform that provides consumers the ability to estimate total expected health care and insurance premium costs including any available subsidies that may be available.
10. Who sells the coverage?
Local insurance professionals will serve as the primary means to sell and service the Virginia Benefits Market offerings. These trusted agents have long served Virginia’s insurance market and we will build upon that by providing these agents unique access to the variety of benefits found on the platform and a means to efficiently manage their book of business.