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January 1, 2014 is a date that evokes mixed emotions among the people in the U.S. healthcare industry. January 1, 2014 is the deadline by which all U.S. states are required to have fully-functional, federally approved Healthcare Insurance Exchanges (healthcare software for Florida and other states) the web-based one-stop platforms for residents to search, compare and buy healthcare plans.

On December 12, 2011, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released an updated report that gauged U.S. states’ readiness in setting up Healthcare Exchanges. While some states threw in the towel and handed over the responsibility for setting up HIX to the federal government, some PPACA supporting states are actively moving forward with their health exchange plans. Surprisingly, some states that had filed lawsuits against the healthcare law are also moving ahead with their HIX set up plans.

Based on the findings of NCSL’s survey, the District of Columbia and 30 other states have passed an executive or legislative order for setting up Health Exchanges. Some states are in the state of preparation and are still weighing their options.

Out of 50 U.S. states, 28 states and D.C have received Level I grants for setting up their Exchanges. These 28 states also include 11 states that have filed lawsuits against the PPACA. While Alaska has refused federal grants for setting up a state HIX, Louisiana and Arkansas have decided to opt for Government run exchanges. Michigan, which has filed a lawsuit to repeal the PPACA, decided to set up its State HIX and received a Level I establishment grant from the Government on November 29, 2011.

Rhode Island is the first state that has been granted the Level II establishment grant from the Government. Florida has revealed its intention to set up a Health Insurance Exchange early next year, but the exchange will only provide health plan purchasing facility to employers with 50 or lesser employees.

Massachusetts and Utah already have functional Health Insurance Exchanges that have been running for over a couple of years.

With most U.S. states still in a state of unpreparedness, all eyes are now set on the Supreme Court, which recently set the dates (March 26-28) for hearing arguments on the constitutionality of the PPACA. The final decision of the Supreme Court is expected to be out in late June or early July.

If the Supreme Court decides to uphold the PPACA, then all the states that are trailing behind in their HIX establishment deadlines will have limited time to become exchange ready by January 1, 2014.

To conform to the deadlines, U.S. states will need an easily deployable and stable system that can be customized as per the States requirement model. hCentive’s WebInsure State solution has been specifically designed keeping the challenges and federal deadlines in mind. hCentive offers secure, fully customizable and easy to navigate Health Insurance Exchange solutions for States’ residents.

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