HHS has officially started referring to “marketplaces” instead of “exchanges” when describing the state-based online venues where people will be able to purchase health insurance and receive income-based subsidies starting in 2014. Some are calling this a sign that HHS is desperate to garner approval for the ACA-created system for purchasing individual and small group health insurance, but I’d say it’s a long-overdue switch to appropriate terminology. I never really got the logic for calling it an exchange in the first place. It’s not the stock market, and it’s not a swap meet. It’s an online health insurance sales platform combined with a way for people to receive federal subsidies to help fund their health insurance premiums if they earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level.
Now that HHS has made the switch to using the word marketplace, we’ll follow suit. But I wonder whether the term “exchange” has become so entwined with the ACA and healthcare reform that it will continue to be used regardless of what HHS calls it? Marketplace is definitely more descriptive and accurate – too bad they didn’t start out by calling it that three years ago.
And while we’re on the topic of the marketplaces, check out this treasure trove of healthcare reform data, compiled on a state-by-state basis. Colorado is only 19% of the way there in terms of overall healthcare reform, but we’re 56% finished with our marketplace (ie, exchange) implementation.