I criticized the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of IBM’s decision to put its Medicare-eligible retirees into a health insurance exchange. (See Health exchange confusion: WSJ style.) The article was unduly negative on exchanges without really explaining what they are. And the fact that the policy shift was limited to Medicare-eligible retirees should have been highlighted more directly.
In a follow-up article (Time Warner Joins IBM In Health Shift for Retirees) the same author does a little better. At least he makes exchanges the explicit subject of the article, not about how companies are abandoning their retirees. And there’s a quote from an AARP spokesperson in favor of the concept.
Health insurance exchanges (or marketplaces, which I prefer) are a good thing. They offer individuals and families a broader choice of coverage, which means they’re more likely to find a plan that’s a good fit. I hope the Journal decides to do a more detailed piece about what private exchanges are, how they differ from public exchanges, and how they work. That would be much more of a service than these pieces about individual companies making changes, which provide such an incomplete picture. This article, for instance, does not specify whether Time Warner’s move is limited to its Medicare retirees or whether it affects all retirees, which would be a much bigger deal.