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HHS renames health insurance exchanges 'marketplaces'

Health Insurance Marketplace, or just Marketplace, has replaced “exchanges” in how HHS now refers to a key and soon-to-go-into-effect provision of the 2010 healthcare reform law.

On a website managed by HHS, www.healthcare.gov, Marketplace is prominently featured as the online portal where uninsured, low-income individuals will be able to use health care reform law-authorized government premium subsidies to purchase coverage from participating insurers. Small employers also will be able to purchase coverage from the marketplaces for their employees.

Open enrollment will begin Oct. 1, 2013, with the first policies effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Seventeen states, plus the District of Columbia, have received HHS conditional approval to operate marketplaces. Arkansas and Delaware have received approval to partner with HHS in running marketplaces, and several other states are expected to receive approval for such arrangements. In other states, HHS will set up marketplaces.

While HHS may have changed the terminology, states, however, have not. For example, California refers to its program as the California Health Benefit Exchange, while its northern neighboring state, Oregon, calls its program Cover Oregon.

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