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  • Private Exchange Frequently Asked Questions

    For more help understanding private exchanges, call one of our expert consultants at 1-855-265-3615 or
    send us an email.
  • What is a health exchange?


    In its most basic form, an exchange is an online marketplace where buyers can purchase various benefits for themselves and their family. Typically, benefits exchanges offer more benefit choices and provide the opportunity to personalize one’s benefit selections.

    Is there a difference between a public exchange and a private exchange?


    The basic concept is similar, but there are two very basic types of exchanges: public (state and federal government-run exchanges) and private exchanges. Income-based subsidies to purchase health insurance can only be used on a public exchange. These subsidies cannot be used on private exchanges.

    Public exchanges are only available to individuals and small groups. Private exchanges cater to larger categories of exchange users: individuals, small groups, large and jumbo groups, consortiums, multiple-employer arrangements, active employees, retirees, part-timers and other subcategories as well.

    For a more detailed discussion on exchanges, download our whitepaper: Emerging Health Insurance Exchange Models: The Intersection of Public and Private Exchanges.

    How is a defined contribution plan different from a defined benefits plan?


    With a defined contribution plan, employers contribute set amounts of money toward employees’ health insurance coverage. Under this model, employees have a wide range of benefit choices to select from within a private exchange system. With a defined benefits plan, an employer selects one or two specific health insurance options to offer employees.

    What types of benefits can be found on an exchange?


    Medical, dental and vision plans are most common, while some private exchanges may also offer life, disability, auto and homeowner’s coverage.

    What types of decision support tools are available on an exchange?


    Federally run public exchanges often provide expanded benefit comparison spreadsheets to assist in the plan selection process and intermittent call center support. Generally, state-based exchanges have fared better than their federally run counterparts in terms of overall plan selection functionality and consumer experience.

    Many private exchanges offer sophisticated decision support tools to assist individuals with their benefits selections, including future utilization projections, out-of-pocket costs, educational videos and professional call center support.

    How does the First Niagara Benefits Exchange work?

    1. As the employer, you determine the type of funding arrangement, then choose the appropriate carrier partner from our robust offering. After developing a contribution strategy that works for your company, we help you select a family of products to offer employees.
    2. Your employees enroll in coverage online through the First Niagara Benefits Exchange by utilizing an array of decision support tools to select the benefits that work best for their particular situation.
    3. First Niagara Benefits Exchange sends your employees’ benefit choices to the selected insurance carrier and feeds employee payroll deduction information to your payroll vendor. The selected carrier will then issue an employee health insurance policy, ID card and information directly to the employee.
    4. The First Niagara Benefits Exchange will also send you a record of your employees' benefit selections. You will collect any premium deficit owed by the employee through pre-tax payroll contributions.

    Learn more about First Niagara Benefits Exchange

Bswift is a third-party vendor of First Niagara Benefits Consulting. Such vendor is not affiliated with First Niagara Benefits Consulting, First Niagara Risk Management, Inc. or First Niagara Bank, N.A.

Risk management, benefits consulting services and insurance products are offered through First Niagara Risk Management, Inc., doing business as First Niagara Benefits Consulting, a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Niagara Bank, N.A., and a licensed insurance broker and agent. Insurance policies are obligations of the insurers that issue the policies. Insurance products may not be available in all states.


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