WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Health insurance exchanges are being planned in 49 states, while 34 states have begun building the exchanges, U.S. health officials said Thursday.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Vermont have received new grants to help support the establishment of Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
Starting in 2014, consumers and small businesses will have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance through an exchange -- a one-stop marketplace where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress, Sebelius said.
"We continue to support states as they move forward building an exchange that works for them," Sebelius said in a statement. "Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Americans will have more health insurance choices and the ability to compare insurance plans."
In every state, exchanges will allow consumers to shop for and enroll in private healthcare plans that meet their needs, Sebelius said. Consumers will be able to learn whether they are eligible for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, or other health care programs like the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Small employers will be eligible to receive tax credits for coverage purchased for employees through the exchange, Sebelius said.