A private exchange is simply an online resource set up by brokers, insurance carriers or benefit consultants, where individuals and employers can shop for health insurance, enroll in a plan, and receive customer support as needed. When you visit a health insurance comparison site and submit an application, you’re using a private exchange. These are not new, and they’re not part of the Affordable Care Act.
Private exchanges can be used in the individual or group markets. The public exchanges established by the ACA will provide options for individuals and small groups, and it’s expected that private exchanges in many states will assist applicants enrolling in public exchanges. (This means that you may be able to use your regular broker to help you enroll in a subsidized public exchange plan.)
There will not be public exchanges for large groups, so private exchanges will likely be popular as brokers and insurance carriers work to to help large employers find plans that best meet their needs and also conform to ACA regulations.