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Private exchanges are growing fast, but changing rapidly. Benefits platforms and private exchanges continue robust growth, with 12 million enrollments projected in 2016, but the technology landscape is set for shake-out. Employers are focusing on value — better cost management, benefits choice, and user experience. While more than 15 percent of brokers plan to spend $1 million+ on technology in 2016 to assist employers, they will need to leverage the right technology platforms to take on both established and emerging competition and fulfill employer (and employee) expectations with value.

Employers feel the squeeze and seek solutions: Small to mid-size employers often lack the resources to access a range of benefits and affordable choices in a convenient way, even as they compete with large employers to attract and retain employees. In a pulse survey of 30 small to mid-sized employers in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast conducted by hCentive, nearly 75 percent said they use an agency or broker for employee benefits. However, employer experience with brokers is inconsistent in involvement and support. Cost containment is an overwhelming concern for employers and they look to brokers to assist them in remaining competitive and controllling costs at the same time (e.g., propose different carrier or plan design or alternate contribution strategy).

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