Proposed rules offer states flexibility, choices, competition and clout for consumers and small businesses
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a framework to assist states in building Affordable Insurance Exchanges, 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. Starting in 2014, Exchanges will make it easy for individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs.
“Exchanges offer Americans competition, choice, and clout,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Insurance companies will compete for business on a transparent, level playing field, driving down costs; and Exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the same purchasing power as big businesses and a choice of plans to fit their needs.”
Today’s announcement is designed to help support and guide states in their efforts to implement Exchanges. 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.
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