More Americans will be turning to government-sponsored health exchanges for their health insurance as health care reform takes hold.

That's the finding of two recent studies, one by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association and one by the KPMG Healthcare & Life Sciences Institute.

Health insurance exchanges are marketplaces where individuals, families and small employers can compare available plans and buy health insurance. They were created as a result of the Obama administration's health care reform.

The LIMRA study finds that nearly half of U.S. consumers believe that the majority of Americans will have government-provided health insurance through exchanges within the next three to five years.

While the majority of employers say they plan to continue to provide health insurance to their employees, four out of 10 survey participants believe they won't. The respondents believe that the majority of employers will stop offering health insurance coverage and pay the penalty they will be subject to as a result That would leave employees to find their own health insurance and they would most likely turn to the government-run health exchanges, the survey finds.

While a good number of respondents predict a scenario where employees turn to health exchanges, as much as a third of respondents say they "don't know" or don't have an opinion about health care reform. That could indicate that many people don't have a good knowledge of health care reform, LIMRA says in its press release on its survey.

Business leaders confident in exchanges

A poll conducted by KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory services firm, finds that the vast majority of business leaders at health plan providers believe they will be able to successfully participate in health benefit exchanges.

Participants were asked: How confident are you in your management's ability to successfully participate in health benefit exchanges? More than half say they are quite confident: 16 percent say they are very confident and 42 percent say they're confident. Twenty-two percent say they are somewhat confident. Only 3 percent say they are not at all confident and a small percentage - 17 percent- say they don't know.

More than health insurance from exchanges

Most of those polled say their organizations will soon or are already marketing and delivering products that are consumer focused. More than 100 health plan executives volunteered to participate in the poll which was conducted online.

The LIMRA study also finds that consumers may be interested in buying more than health insurance from exchanges. According to the survey:

  • 45 percent would be interested in life insurance
  • 50 percent would be interested in disability insurance
  • 67 percent would be interested in dental plans
  • 56 percent would be interested in critical illness products
  • About 30 percent would be interested in IRAs and annuities