A health insurance marketplace is designed to help people shop for and enroll in health insurance coverage. Individuals, families and small businesses will be able to use the health insurance marketplace to help them compare commercial insurance options, calculate costs and select coverage online, in-person, over the phone or by mail. The health insurance marketplace will also help people to check their eligibility for health care programs like Medicaid and sign up for these programs if they are eligible. The health insurance marketplace will also be able to tell what type of financial assistance is available to applicants to help them afford health insurance purchased through the marketplace. Insurance coverage can be purchased through the health insurance marketplace beginning in October 2013 and will be effective January 1, 2014.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health insurance marketplace will be operating in every state starting in 2014. States have the option to either set up a health insurance marketplace themselves or to allow the federal government to set up a marketplace in their state.