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Healthcare Exchanges are organizations which have been set up to facilitate the purchase of health insurance in the United States. Each state has it’s own health exchange to ensure all individuals have access to government regulated, standardized health care policies eligible for federal subsidies. These Healthcare Exchanges are not themselves insurers, but they do determine the insurance companies that can participate, providing assistance to ensure insurers comply with consumer protection laws, compete in cost effective ways, and expand health insurance coverage to more individuals.

President Obama announced that these exchanges would be a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) healthcare initiative. The ObamaCare Health insurance exchange marketplace opened on October 1st, 2013. These online exchanges offer individuals the opportunity to avail of their state’s exchange to obtain coverage from competing private health providers.

Who can use the Healthcare Exchange?

Everyone can use the Healthcare Exchanges unless they qualify for Medicaid. Any individual who doesn’t like their current healthcare plan, or has yet to get coverage can visit the exchange to view their options.

How do I register?

The ACA exchanges for each state are all accessible online. Every year there is an open enrollment period that provides individuals and families with a three-month period in which to purchase a new plan, or to switch from an existing plan.

Outside of this period, it’s not possible to purchase a health plan that counts as minimum essential coverage, unless an individual qualifies for a special enrollment period.

Enrollment this year will run from November 1st, 2016 until January 31st, 2017. For more information on this visit the official website.

Why Should I Use an Exchange?

  1. An exchange gathers data from numerous insurance providers in one database, ensuring that employees can avail of the best policy for the amount specified.
  2. There are more options available for employees to choose from. Exchanges offer a wide variety of plans and coverage options. Employees can select the policy benefits specific to their needs.
  3. Health care exchanges help employees with administration to get set up with a health care plan, ensuring all of their needs are met and conforms with government requirements.

For more information, this blog post provides more details on the provisions of the ACA for employers..

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