Looking Ahead to 2014: Competitive Affordable Insurance Marketplaces

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted July 11, 2011

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed last year, reforms have given Americans new rights and benefits by ending lifetime limits, allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health plan until age 26, and giving many patients access to recommended preventive services without cost-sharing. These are among the many other benefits Americans across the country are accessing on a daily basis.

Yet too many individuals and small businesses still struggle to provide their families and employees with quality, affordable health care. But, all of that is coming to an end.

Today, we are entering the next phase in implementing the health reform law. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a proposed framework to assist states in building Affordable Insurance Exchanges.

Exchanges are State-based competitive marketplaces where individuals and small businesses will be able to purchase affordable private health insurance and have the same insurance choices as Members of Congress. Insurance companies will compete for business on a transparent, level playing field, driving down costs. Exchanges will have the same purchasing clout as big businesses and will give consumers a choice of plans to fit their needs.

Together, states and the federal government are partnering to build these improved markets and help Americans get and keep the health coverage that is right for them. An Exchange can help you:

  • Look for and compare health plans
  • Get answers to questions about your health coverage options
  • Find out if you’re eligible for health programs or tax credits that make coverage more affordable
  • Enroll in a health plan that meets your needs

HHS proposed new rules offering States guidance and options on how to structure their Exchanges in two key areas:

  • Setting standards for establishing Exchanges, setting up a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), performing the basic functions of an Exchange, and certifying health plans for participation in the Exchange, and;
  • Ensuring premium stability for plans and enrollees in the Exchange, especially in the early years as new people come in to Exchanges to shop for health insurance

These proposed rules set minimum standards for Exchanges, give States the flexibility they need to design Exchanges that best fit their unique insurance markets, and are consistent with steps States have already taken to move forward with Exchanges.

We look forward to 2014 when consumers are able to access quality health insurance on a level playing field.

View the press release here.

Content last reviewed on August 13, 2015