Moving Forward to Implement the Health Insurance Exchanges

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted January 20, 2011

If you’ve ever purchased insurance in the individual market, you know well how difficult it can be to navigate the market and find affordable options. We want to make this process easier. This is why we’re moving full speed ahead in helping states build “Health Insurance Exchanges,” marketplaces that will allow you to compare plans in your state based on price and quality. When fully implemented in 2014, they’ll be a “one-stop” shop to find and compare affordable, quality health insurance options.

In implementing the Health Insurance Exchanges, HHS is partnering with States to take the often complicated process individuals and small businesses face in purchasing insurance on their own and turn it into a simple, easy-to-navigate experience that benefits consumers rather than insurance companies.

Work is already under way in States to create these new health insurance marketplaces, and the Affordable Care Act guarantees that States have the resources they need to do their part.

Today, we are announcing more resources for States to continue their work to implement the Exchanges. Because each State has different needs and goals, we want to make sure States have the flexibility they need to develop and implement their Health Insurance Exchanges. 

Starting in 2014, Health Insurance Exchanges will:

  • Lower Costs: Exchanges will increase competition among private insurance plans through greater comparative shopping and more informed consumers. And by pooling them together, Exchanges will give small businesses the purchasing power that large businesses enjoy today. In addition, consumers buying insurance through an Exchange may qualify for tax credits to help bring down their premium and out of pocket costs.
  • Provide One-Stop Shop: The Exchanges will make purchasing health insurance easier by providing individuals and small businesses with tools to compare benefits, pricing and quality. Consumers who choose to use them will also have access to a wide range of customer assistance benefits – including information about prices, quality, and physician and hospital networks – to help make the best choice for themselves, their families, or their employees.
  • Ensure Greater Benefits and Protections: Exchanges will create a health insurance marketplace that will allow families and small employers to choose from plans offering high quality benefits. Individuals and families purchasing health insurance through Exchanges may qualify for premium tax credits and reduced cost-sharing depending on their income.