In US, several types of Healthcare Exchanges (HIX) will be popping up soon, offering customers a wide range of healthcare plans to choose from. Some States will run their own healthcare exchanges and others will opt for a Federally run option.
It seems a lot like late 90s when hundreds of B2B Exchanges were popping up across the globe. Healthcare Exchanges are just getting started. States are in the process of making up their mind, choosing partners and technology platforms. Some have already given up and opted for Federally run model. Others want some control but do not want to handle the infrastructure. There is not one, or 2 but 5 models to choose from.
Check out this excellent article by Hank. J. Aaron who is an authority on healthcare topics. It is very similar to late 90s when the B2B Exchanges were popping up everywhere and there were several exchanges for each industry. Most of these exchanges merged or got acquired and today there is none left since the last standing B2B exchange ARIBA got acquired by SAP in 2012. B2B Exchanges were solving the problem of industrial procurement and Healthcare Exchanges on the other hand will solve the problem of Medical Plan procurement.
There are many similarities in both the models but there are 3 major differences as well.
1. B2B Exchanges had a goal to cut procurement cost and were not driven by any legislation. Healthcare Exchanges on the other hand are a direct result of the Obamacare. Although they are turning out to be as interesting to watch.
2. Every company wanted to be part of surging B2B Marketplace with major manufacturers and retailers sponsoring them. On the contrary, major healthcare providers like Aetna, United Healthcare and CIGNA are not keen on joining Healthcare Exchanges immediately and are adopting wait and watch policy.
3. B2B Exchanges fizzled out due to thin margins and other alternatives available to them, healthcare exchanges on the other hand are here to stay as they are government mandates and grants involved.
Similarities and differences aside, Health Exchanges landscape is still evolving and is very interesting to watch it unfold.