Exchange maker: Demand is strong

*Originally posted on, December 3, 2015.

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By: Allison Bell, Health Insurance Channel Editor. 

Rising costs and complicated new administrative requirements are continuing to increase employer and broker interest in private exchange systems.

Rob Butler, chief executive officer of Maestro Health, a private exchange marketplace, benefits provider and benefits administrator, gave that assessment today in an interview.

Butler, the former president of PayFlex Systems USA Inc., a health savings account (HSA) administrator, started Maestro after Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) acquired Payflex.

 Some have wondered how fast the private exchange market is really growing, given the lack of private exchange financial data from vendors other than Towers Watson & Company (NYSE:TW). 

 But Butler said he believes employer CEOs are still asking their human resources managers about whether their companies have a private exchange strategy.

"It's the hot button right now," Butler said. "People are seeking us out. We're having a very, very interesting time."

Maestro promotes itself as a company that can offer a flexible, well-integrated exchange system, and it offers its systems to insurers and employers as well as to brokers. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona recently agreed to make the company its exclusive exchange system provider.

Some brokers have suggested that many affected employers are now showing a sudden interest in complying with the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) employee and health coverage offer counting requirements for 2015, and an awareness of the need to send employees, and former employees, 1095-C coverage offer reporting notices, in early 2016.

Maestro is getting a significant share of its new business from employers that want health with the PPACA employee counting and reporting requirements, Butler said.

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