Partnering with States to Implement Affordable Insurance Exchanges

By Steve Larsen, Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Over. Crosspost from Healthcare.gov

The old health insurance market is broken. It costs too much and excludes too many Americans from coverage. Starting in 2014, when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, you, your family, and your small business will have access to a new State-based competitive marketplace – the Affordable Insurance Exchange – where you can shop for affordable, private insurance coverage. The Exchanges will ensure you have more choices and insurance companies will have to compete for your business based on the price and quality of their products.

For Exchanges to work, they all have to be able to perform some basic functions – providing you with information about the insurance options available to you, including price and quality, and letting you know if you are eligible for premium tax credits to cut your costs.

In the 18 months since the health care law was signed, States have made remarkable progress in designing their Exchanges. More than half the States have already taken some action.

But we know that each State is different. And what is best for you and your family in California might not be what is best for your sister and her small business in New York. That is why we are working with States to create Exchanges that fit the needs of each State and ensuring States have the flexibility they need to best serve their residents.

Today, we are proposing the Affordable Insurance Exchange “Partnership Options” Opportunities initiative that will give States new choices to consider as they plan their Exchanges for 2014. While some States may choose to fully operate an Exchange, others might wish choose to perform some functions and let the federal government perform others for them. This is exactly what the Partnership Options proposal offers. States can choose their role in the Partnership Exchange from three basic options. These options are:

  • Option 1 – Plan management. States take the lead on working with health plans who want to participate in the exchange to offer coverage.
  • Option 2 – Selected consumer assistance. States will help you understand your options—they will do conduct outreach and education, provide in-person consumer support for Exchanges, and manage the call center and the consumer website where you can get the most up to date information.
  • Option 3 – Both Option 1 and Option 2.

A State can pick a Partnership Option for the foreseeable future, or simply as a means of phasing in a State-run Exchange. Ultimately, our goal is to support a seamless experience for you and your family.

While States are moving at different speeds in planning their Exchanges, one thing is clear: They still have the time, the financial support, and the flexibility they need to build the model that best suits the needs of the people they serve.

And no matter which pathway States choose, Exchanges will offer you and your family a simple, seamless way to get affordable health care.

For more information about this announcement, please visit this page.

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