Walgreens Moves Employees to Private Health Exchange

Sperling explained that Aon Hewitt designed the coverage to be standardized across companies and they are based on what large employers offer employees today.

"So there is a minimum amount of disruption," he said.

The coverage was also designed so insurance companies can process a claim with a minimum amount of mistakes, he said. "That's what drives consumers nuts -- when an insurance company processes a claim incorrectly."

The exchange system, he said, is not one in which an employer gives an employee money to buy coverage. The exchange system is employer-sponsored group insurance governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, he explains.

"The employer still provides coverage and is still in the game," he said. "Walgreens will still be holding contracts with insurance companies and still providing employer-sponsored coverage."

"And like today, any employee – Walgreens or any other employee – can choose not to take coverage an employer offers them. That will be case today and the case next year," Sperling said.

For households or small businesses eligible to participate in state and federal healthcare marketplaces -- that is, employers with less than 50 to 100 employees, depending on the state -- Sperling's advice is to pay attention to options available, such as provider networks, drug formularies and prices.

"Especially for individuals – if you're eligible for a federal subsidy, take advantage of it," he said.

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