Building a Better Insurance Marketplace – Setting the Stage for 2014
Jay Angoff, Director of the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight
If you buy your own insurance in the individual market, you know how hard it can be to find affordable health insurance options that give you value for your premium dollars.
The Affordable Care Act helps create a new competitive private health insurance market – through state-run health insurance -- that will give millions of Americans and small businesses access to affordable coverage, and the same choices of insurance that members of Congress will have.
Once the Exchanges are established, they will be a one-stop-shop for health insurance. Much in the way the Health Insurance Finder on healthcare.gov lets you navigate potential coverage options, an Exchange will go a step further to allow you to compare plans and purchase the coverage that is best for you and your family. They will have a wide range of consumer assistance tools to help you make that decision, including information about prices, quality, and physician and hospital networks.
In addition to bringing information together in one place, the Exchanges will make the health insurance market more transparent. Health plans will be required to offer a minimum level of coverage and compete based on price and quality, allowing those Americans who choose to use the Exchanges to purchase insurance to have clear choices.
Although the Exchanges won’t be available to you until 2014, we are starting to work with States now.
That’s why this week we took two important steps. First, we announced the availability of the first round of funding - up to $1 million for each State and the District of Columbia – to help cash-strapped states start planning for their Exchange.
We also are starting a national conversation about the best way to structure and run the Exchanges by publishing a request for comment. Exchanges will need to create a fairer marketplace for consumers and encourage the right type of competition – on price and quality – for insurers. To get it right, we are asking States, consumer advocates, employers, insurers, and other interested stakeholders to provide input as we develop the standards to support the establishment and operation of the Exchanges.
When they are in place, Exchanges will offer individuals and small businesses a choice of health plans that are both affordable and provide access to high-quality care. The steps taken today to thoughtfully and carefully move forward in establishing the health insurance Exchanges will help meet the health coverage needs of Americans.