Recently, HHS re-branded health insurance exchanges as "Health Insurance Marketplaces". Here's an overview of the new Health Insurance Marketplace in the administration's words (taken directly from the HHS website). What do you think?
Here's the text:
About The Health Insurance Marketplace
When key parts of the health care law take effect in 2014, there’ll be a new way for individuals, families and small businesses to get health insurance.
Whether you’re uninsured, or just want to explore new options, the Marketplace will give you more choice and control over your health insurance options.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed to help you find health insurance that fits your budget, with less hassle.
Get Ready to Enroll In The Health Insurance Marketplace
Enrollment in the Marketplace starts in October 2013.
Whether you’re uninsured, need insurance for your small business, or just want to explore your choices, the Health Insurance Marketplace can help you find a plan that’s right for you.
Get a Break On Health Insurance Costs
More people than ever will qualify for free or low cost health insurance in 2014.
When key parts of the health care law take effect in 2014, more people than ever before will qualify for health insurance that fits their budget. You may be eligible for a free or low-cost plan, or a new kind of tax credit that lowers your monthly premiums right away.
Thanks to new rules and expanded programs, even working families will be able to get help through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Most people will be able to get a break on costs through the Marketplace, even if you think your income is too high to get help. One application, one time, and you’ll see all the programs you qualify for.
Different financial assistance programs will be directly linked into the Health Insurance Marketplace when enrollment starts in October 2013. In the meantime, you or your child or teen may qualify NOW for no-cost or low-cost health insurance through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Insurance Plans Run By Private Companies
When you shop at the Marketplace, everything you need is laid out for you. All your costs are stated up front, so you’ll get a clear picture of what you’re paying and what you’re getting before you make a choice.
Under the health care law, there will also be new protections for you and your family. Health insurance companies can't refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a chronic or pre-existing condition, and they can’t charge more for women than for men.
Today, small employers like you have a tough time finding and affording coverage that meets the needs of your employees. Starting in 2014, you’ll have more choice and control over your health insurance spending through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), a new program designed to simplify the process of finding health insurance for your small business.
You choose the level of coverage you’ll offer, and define how much you’ll contribute towards your employees’ coverage.
You’ll also have exclusive access to an expanded Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit. This tax credit covers as much as 50% of the employer contribution toward premium costs for eligible employers who have low- to moderate-wage workers.
When you get insurance through the SHOP, it makes it easy for you take advantage of other tax breaks too including the chance for you and your employees to use pre-tax dollars to make your premium payments.
You and your employees will also benefit from new protections that help you get real value for your premium dollars. There are new limits on the higher premiums insurers can charge businesses with older employees, and an employee with high health care costs no longer increases your group’s premium. There are also new limits on the share of premiums going to insurers’ profits and administrative costs.
The health insurance plans available in the SHOP will be run by private health insurance companies, the same way small group plans are run now. All plans will offer the same benefits as a “typical” employer plan, including real protection against financial catastrophe.
Plans will present their cost and coverage information in a standard format, using plain language that’s clear and easy for you to understand. You and your employees will be able to easily compare plans based on price, coverage, quality and other features that are important to you.
You can use your existing insurance broker to access the SHOP, or you can shop for plans yourself, without a broker. You can review pricing and coverage in apples-to-apples comparisons, complete a single application, and choose the level of coverage that works for your budget, your business, and your employees.
Watch for More Information In October 2013
Starting in October, you’ll be able to get information about all the plans available in your area. You’ll be able to enroll yourself, directly through the website, or call a toll-free phone hotline.
If you’re having difficulty finding a plan that meets your needs and budget, there’ll be people available to give you personalized help with your choices. These helpers aren’t associated with any particular plan, and they aren’t on any type of commission, so the help they give you will be completely unbiased.
Coverage from the Marketplace starts in January 2014.
Here's the video: