Health insurance exchange blueprints in Connecticut, Maryland and four other states are the first to be approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The states are now permitted to operate a benefits marketplace in 2013.
For now, the approvals are conditional, which means they’re granted with the expectation the exchanges will provide affordable options to state residents.
Eight other states have announced they will create a state-run exchange. The Affordable Care Act, signed in 2010, is expected to extend coverage to roughly 30 million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured.
“Our progress has been the result of insurance producers, carriers, third-party administrators, health care providers, advocates, and consumers coming together to build a marketplace that will best meet the needs of individuals and small businesses throughout Maryland,” Maryland Governor Anthony Brown told The Washington Post.
Maryland Health Connections will be operated by Maryland Health Benefit Exchange as an online portal where individuals and small businesses can compare health insurance plans. As many as 150,000 people are expected to participate in the exchange, states the newspaper.
Connecticut governor Nancy Wyman said the approval shows how much progress the state has made toward reaching its health care exchange goals. Connecticut has received $116 million in federal funding to design and create the exchange, The Associated Press reports.