The Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury today took the next steps to establish Affordable Insurance Exchanges—one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kind of insurance choices as members of Congress. Among other policies, the proposed rules describe how middle-class families will gain access to unprecedented tax relief that will dramatically reduce the cost of coverage.
Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010, over half of states have taken actions to build an Exchange. Today, HHS awarded $185 million to 13 states and the District of Columbia to help them build Affordable Insurance Exchanges and, with Treasury, posted three proposed rules that will provide a simple, streamlined, and affordable path for consumers to use the Exchanges to purchase private health insurance. Additionally, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to governors laying out options and resources available to states to set up their Exchanges.
The three proposed rules released by HHS and Treasury focus on the following:
• Easy, Simple Access to Coverage for Consumers and Small Businesses: New rules will make it easy for consumers to enroll in high-quality health plans and get help paying for health coverage through premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions. Small employers participating in the Small Business Health Options Program will be able to offer their employees a choice of health plans and cut their costs with new tax credits.
• Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit: Individuals and families will receive premium tax credits to help defray insurance costs, increasing access to health coverage for millions of middle class American families.
• Medicaid Eligibility: Coordinating the Exchange with Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program eligibility will make enrollment seamless for qualified Americans and reduce the administrative burden on states.