20 states now have approval to run insurance exchanges


More states are earning approval for health insurance exchange plans as the Affordable Care Act's deadline approaches.


Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont, and Utah are the latest states to earn conditional approval to operate state-based health insurance exchanges, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The new additions bring the grand total of states ready to operate their own exchanges to 20, including Washington, D.C. Other states already granted approval include Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

“States across the country are working to implement the healthcare law and build a marketplace that works for their residents,” says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “In 10 months, consumers in all 50 states will have access to a new marketplace where they will be able to easily purchase affordable, high-quality health insurance plans, and today’s guidance will provide the information states need to guide their continued work.”

Another 24 states-Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming-have declined to operate their own exchanges, defaulting to a federal exchange instead, according to data collected by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The six remaining states-Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, and West Virginia-are still in the planning stages for their exchanges, according to Kaiser. They have until February 15 to apply for State Partnership Exchange Approval, HHS says.

Consumers will be able to access the exchanges, mandated by the Affordable Care Act, beginning in 2014. The program will allow the public to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through these marketplaces and may be eligible for tax credits to help pay for their health insurance.

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