Health Care Exchanges Launch October 1

The Health Insurance Exchanges, also referred to as Marketplaces, have been the source of endless media coverage and debate since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010. Now on Tuesday, October 1, the Exchanges are going live with open enrollment in every state across the country. Coverage for plans offered through the Exchanges will begin January 1, 2014.

The Exchanges are state-based marketplaces through which individuals and small employers can compare plans and purchase health insurance. While each state will have its own Health Insurance Exchange, and the insurance plans offered will have to meet certain standards, the Exchanges themselves will look and operate differently state by state.

This is because every state was given the option to either create their own Exchange, allow the federal government to facilitate their Exchange, or create a state and federal partnership Exchange. For 2014:

  • 16 states and the District of Columbia will have state-run Exchanges
  • 26 states will have federally facilitated Exchanges
  • 8 states will have state-federal partnership Exchanges

To learn more about your state’s Exchange, visit the Exchange/Marketplace website.

Who Purchases Insurance Through the Exchanges?

The Exchanges are designed for those who currently purchase insurance in the individual market. For example, this group may include early retirees (pre-Medicare eligible retirees), the self-employed, individuals whose employers do not provide insurance, or those who cannot afford their employer’s insurance. Employers with fewer than 100 full time employees will also be able to purchase insurance through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Exchanges in 2014. However, the Administration has announced that SHOP Exchange open enrollment may be delayed until after October 1 for some markets.

If you have or will qualify for health coverage through Medicare or Medicaid – or other private insurance coverage that you are planning to keep - you do not have to purchase insurance through your state’s Exchange. In fact, your Medicare or Medicaid coverage will be completely unaffected by the launch of the Exchanges.

To learn more about the Health Insurance Exchanges, visit PAN’s ACA FAQs.


Date originally posted: September 27, 2013.