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Friday, October 22, 2010

How Exchanges will help you

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

One of the most important features of the Affordable Care Act is the development of new insurance marketplaces called “exchanges.” The purpose of these exchanges is to give individuals and small businesses a one-stop shop to explore their coverage options with the help of easy-to-understand information on all their options. The exchanges will help both low-and middle-income people find coverage that is more affordable. Some will receive tax credits to purchase insurance, or if they are eligible for Medicaid or any other public coverage programs, the exchange will be used to streamline the enrollment process.

However, a lot must happen between now and 2014 (when the exchanges will be up and running) to ensure the successful implementation of health insurance exchanges in each state.

To assist states and consumer advocates in their work to establish these exchanges, Families USA has created Implementing Health Insurance Exchanges: A Guide to State Activities and Choices. This brief describes the requirements laid out in the Affordable Care Act that all new exchanges must meet. It outlines the choices states will face as they begin to design their health insurance exchanges, as well as various issues consumer advocates should consider during the implementation process. To be specific, it covers four main topics:

  • Exchange governance and oversight;
  • Making exchanges work for consumers;
  • Exchanges and insurance regulation—building a consumer-friendly marketplace; and
  • Alternative coverage models in exchanges.

At the federal level, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has already begun to lay the groundwork by recently updating so that consumers can now compare coverage and pricing options for health insurance plans in their state. States can look to HHS and for ideas on how to structure an online exchange in order to make it as consumer-friendly as possible.

For more information on the recent updates to, please see our blog:

Creating consumer-friendly health insurance exchanges in all the states is a crucial step in expanding access to affordable, quality health care. A lot must happen between now and 2014 to ensure successful implementation of an exchange in each state, and this guide lays out the groundwork to make sure we reach that goal!