Standards Set for Health Insurance Marketplaces

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The White House unveiled new standards yesterday, detailing the mechanics of the much-anticipated health insurance marketplaces. Even while more than two dozen states, including Idaho, challenge the constitutionality of a requirement for most Americans to carry insurance, the Obama administration is moving forward with a one-stop-shopping concept in which individuals, families and small businesses can compare prices and benefits and buy coverage.

Every state is required to have an exchange by Jan. 1, 2014. Federal officials will assess states' "operational readiness" in early 2013, and if a state is not able or not willing to run the exchange, the U.S. government will do it for them.

The Congressional Budget Office is predicting that by 2019, approximately 24 million people will have insurance through exchanges, with four-fifths of them getting federal subsidies that average $6,400 a year per person. People with incomes up to four times the poverty level (about $89,000 a year for a family of four) will be eligible for subsidies to make insurance more affordable.