Health Insurance Exchanges: What You Need to Know

Most people know by now that, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, every American who is not insured by their employer will be required to purchase health insurance. If you’re part of this group, you may be wondering about the logistics of this reform. Where do you go to find out about these new affordable plans and purchase one? The answer: health insurance exchanges.

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Health insurance exchanges are how we’ll purchase insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s what you need to know about health insurance exchanges:

  • Health insurance exchanges are organizations of government-certified, affordable health plans that will be primarily available for purchase by Americans who aren’t insured by their employers or by small businesses with 100 employees or less.
  • The plans offered will keep costs down for the consumer through government subsidization.
  • Consumers will also be able to find out at the exchanges whether they qualify for health programs or tax credits towards more affordable care.
  • They are designed to promote better organization and more competition in the health insurance market. They will also feature more transparency than has traditionally been seen in health plans, so consumers can better understand their options.
  • These exchanges will be run on a state level, except for in the case that a state exercises its right to opt-out of forming an exchange. In those instances, the federal government will create the state’s exchange. Thus far, only 18 states have agreed to form their own exchanges, and four others have agreed to offer services such as plan selection and customer assistance in partnership with the federally run program.
  • These exchanges will be accessible both online and via telephone.
  • Federal law mandates that these exchanges be fully certified and operational by January 1st, 2014.

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