Magazine article The Nation's Health

Health Exchange Framework Bolstered by New Federal Rules

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Health Exchange Framework Bolstered by New Federal Rules

Article excerpt

WORK IS moving forward to enable the creation of state health insurance exchanges, with new rules and regulations released in recent months at the federal level.

Defined under the Affordable Care Act, state health insurance exchanges will allow Americans to purchase affordable insurance. The exchanges are expected to markedly reduce the number of uninsured, measured at 50 million in 2009.

"Too many American families have been priced out or locked out of the health insurance market," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an August announcement. "Exchanges will give them control and could save them thousands of dollars a year."

Sebelius said she was encouraged by progress states already have made in setting up exchanges, which are required to be in place by 2014. HHS awarded $185 million in grants in August to 13 states and the District of Columbia to help them build insurance exchanges.

Three federal agencies released rules in August that also are designed to help employers find the best coverage for their businesses and employees. Under a proposed rule announced by HHS, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Treasury, health insurers and group plans would be required to provide consumers with "clear, consistent and comparable information" about the health plan benefits and coverage.

The proposed rules include what federal officials described as an easily understandable summary of benefits and coverage as well as a uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage such as "deductible" and "co-pay. …

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