Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday to announce the state received conditional approval to run a health insurance exchange in partnership with the federal government. During a visit with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to the Erie Health Center in Chicago yesterday, Secretary Sebelius announced that conditional approval to operate the State Partnership Marketplace (Exchange), which will be ready for open enrollment in Oct. 2013. This partnership will allow Illinois to make key decisions and tailor the marketplace to local needs and market conditions.
"I applaud efforts by Illinois to build a new health insurance marketplace,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Working together, we will be ready in eight months when residents of Illinois will be able to use the new marketplace to easily purchase quality, affordable health insurance plans.”
“Here in the home state of President Barack Obama, we are forging ahead to make the promise of the Affordable Care Act a reality,” Governor Quinn said. “Access to decent health care is a fundamental right. Hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois will gain quality health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. They will also gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the care will be there if they need it. We are going to be working very hard between now and October 1st to educate the people of our state about the health care coverage options they will have through the Marketplace, thanks to President Obama's leadership.”
The Kaiser Foundation says the Insurance Exchanges are new organizations that will be set up to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance. They will offer a choice of different health plans, certifying plans that participate and providing information to help consumers better understand their options.
Beginning in 2014, Insurance Exchanges will serve primarily individuals buying insurance on their own and small businesses with up to 100 employees, though states can choose to include larger employers in the future. States are expected to establish Exchanges--which can be a government agency or a non-profit organization--with the federal government stepping in if a state does not set them up. States can create multiple Exchanges, so long as only one serves each geographic area, and can work together to form regional Exchanges. The federal government will offer technical assistance to help states set up Exchanges, as they are doing in the state of Illinois.
With today’s conditional approval of Illinois, twenty states and the District of Columbia have been conditionally approved to partially or fully run a marketplace – with the remaining states having until Feb. 15, 2013, to apply for a State Partnership Marketplace.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, consumers and small businesses will, beginning next January, have access to a new marketplace, where they can access quality, affordable private health plans. These comprehensive health plans will ensure consumers have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress, and will not be able to be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Consumers in every state will be able to buy insurance from qualified health plans directly through these marketplaces and may be eligible for tax credits and cost sharing assistance to help pay for their health insurance and out of pocket costs.
For more information on the new health insurance marketplace, visit the HHS website.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.