NC Chamber’s new private insurance exchange to be discussed at health care forum

The N.C. Chamber’s private insurance exchange, scheduled to be launched publicly this week, will be one of the discussion topics Thursday at the Chamber’s day-long health care forum in Raleigh.

The exchange will function as an online portal for customers to compare prices for at least three health insurance companies in North Carolina. The Chamber is creating the online service on the expectation that small businesses will drop health coverage and instead pay workers an allowance to buy their own individual policies.

Up to now, buying an individual policy has meant consulting with insurance agents or navigating complicated brochures from insurance companies. But the novelty of a one-stop-shopping web site could soon become the norm for thousands of residents.

The move to “defined contribution” plans could transform the state’s individual insurance market, which currently represents about 435,000 individual policies, whereas about 4.6 million residents get coverage through employers.

The Chamber’s healthcare conference will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Sheraton Chapel Hill on 1 Europa Drive.

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