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In the United States, health insurance marketplaces,[1] also called health exchanges, are organizations in each state through which people can purchase health insurance. People can purchase health insurance that complies with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, known colloquially as "Obamacare") at ACA health exchanges, where they can choose from a range of government-regulated and standardized health care plans offered by the insurers participating in the exchange.

ACA health exchanges were fully certified and operational by January 1, 2014, under federal law.[2] Enrollment in the marketplaces started on October 1, 2013, and continued for six months. As of April 19, 2014, 8.02 million people had signed up through the health insurance marketplaces. An additional 4.8 million joined Medicaid.[3] Enrollment for 2015 began on November 15, 2014 and ended on December 15, 2014.[4] As of April 14, 2020, 11.41 million people had signed up through the health insurance marketplaces.[5]

Private non-ACA health care exchanges also exist in many states, responsible for enrolling 3 million people.[6] These exchanges predate the Affordable Care Act and facilitate insurance plans for employees of small and medium size businesses.

A private health insurance exchange is an exchange run by a private sector company or nonprofit. Health plans and insurance carriers in a private exchange must meet certain criteria defined by the exchange management. Private exchanges combine technology and human advocacy, and include online eligibility verification and mechanisms for allowing employers who connect their employees or retirees with exchanges to offer subsidies. They are designed to help consumers find plans personalized to their specific health conditions, preferred doctor/hospital networks, and budget. These exchanges are sometimes called marketplaces or intermediaries, and work directly with insurance carriers, effectively acting as extensions of the carrier.[citation needed] The largest and most successful[peacock term] private health care exchange is CaliforniaChoice, established by the Word & Brown General Agency in 1996.[110]

Private health exchanges predate the Affordable Care Act. One example of an early health care exchange is International Medical Exchange (IMX), a company venture financed in Louisville, Kentucky, by Standard Telephones and Cables, a large British technology company (now Nortel), to develop the exchange concept in the U.S. using on-line technology. The product was created in the mid-1980s. IMX developed an eligibility verification system, a claims management system, and a bank-based payments administration system that would manage payments between the patient, the employer, and the insurance carrier. Like proposed exchanges today, it focused on standards of care, utilization review by a third party, private insurer participation, and cost reduction for the health care system through product simplification. The focus was on creating local or regional exchanges that offered a series of standardized health care plans that reduced the complexity and cost of acquiring or understanding health care insurance, while simplifying claims administration. The system was modeled after the standardized stock exchange and banking industry back office processes. The major difference was that IMX health care exchanges would provide their products through a national network of existing commercial banks rather than setting up a duplicate payment and administration systems network as proposed today. The IMX product rights were acquired by Anthem (then Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kentucky). The exchange product became the basis for inter-carrier claims settlement between commercial insurance carriers and Blue Cross organizations. The found

On January 16, 2014, Terry's bill passed the House of Representatives; 226 Republicans and 33 Democrats voted yes.[108] Alexander's bill died in committee.[104]

In March 2015, Oregon officially abolished its state-run health insurance marketplace, "Cover Oregon", in favor of a federally-run exchange.[109]

Private health insurance exchanges