The Affordable Care Act (aka health care reform) will establish health insurance exchanges in each state- providing folks (and small business employees) an opportunity to get health insurance coverage starting 1/1/14. The future exchanges will provide competitive marketplaces for folks to directly compare and buy private health insurance based on price, quality, and other things. 

The law gives states some flexibility in the design and operation of their exchange.  States can operate their own or they can let the Fed’s do it for them.  There’s also a partnership option.  The Governor kicked off a process to review the options regarding the implementation of the Act (including the exchanges) a couple of weeks ago.  Several Stakeholder meetings have already been conducted and there are more to come.  

This week, HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued their “Final Blueprint for Approval of Affordable State-based and State Partnership Insurance Exchanges”.  It’s a Blueprint for states to use as part of their planning and provides guidelines for states to show how their planned exchange will offer the required range of private health insurance options.  It also outlines the process to do a “partnership” exchange.  States that want to do their own exchange need to turn in their blueprint by November 16, 2012 for their exchange to be certified in time.