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A new report by Accenture suggests that of the millions of U.S. employees starting new health plans on January 1, 2014, as many as one-in-four individuals, who enrolled online through private insurance exchanges, selected lower coverage levels than their employer previously offered to decrease their monthly premiums. And the majority (57 percent) of those who select lower-priced health plans will buy ancillary benefits, such as vision coverage or even pet insurance, using their allocated leftover funds.

“Private exchanges represent a significant opportunity for consumers to personalize their health benefit options,” said Rich Birhanzel the managing director of Accenture Health Administrative Services.  However, Mr. Birhanzel continued, “to make more informed decisions, consumers need a better understanding of the complex tradeoff decisions that are part of the enrollment process, such as weighing individual medical risks against personal financial circumstances. Without that knowledge, consumers will be more likely to face higher costs that could potentially arise from unexpected incidents and treatment needs.”

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