Since launching in October 2013, individual Americans (and small business owners) who purchase their own health insurance or are uninsured can buy private health insurance through an online marketplace provided through the Affordable Care Act.
This marketplace, known as a health insurance exchange, provides access to certified health insurance plans. According to the government, the health insurance exchange includes detailed information as well as educational services to help consumers understand the process and available policies.
By providing one-stop shopping for health insurance, the government says exchanges are designed to make purchasing insurance easier. They give consumers seeking coverage the ability to compare, select, and enroll in one place. The choice of various health insurance policies is unique to this marketplace. It lets consumers contrast the specific qualities, benefits, services, and cost of the different options.
The government intends for the exchanges to reduce the cost of health insurance by pooling individuals and small businesses together, resulting in increased leverage in the marketplace, a larger risk pool, and other advantages. Exchanges are administered by the individual states, through states partnering with the federal government, or the federal government alone.
With health insurance exchanges, health insurance companies will not be able to deny coverage to someone due to pre-existing or chronic conditions. Also, health insurance companies will not be able to charge women more than men for the same level of coverage.