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With the exchange now live, there has been some clarity in the carriers and rates for the Illinois state exchange. Consumers in Cook County will be able to choose plans offered by five carriers – Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Coventry, Health, Humana, Inc. and Land of Lincoln Health.

However, only BCBS and Land of Lincoln are offering both individual and small-group plans throughout the state. BCBS is offering 16 individual plans and 19 small businesses; Land of Lincoln is offering 19 individual and 16 small group plans. Offering the most individual plans – more than 30 different options – is Humana and Coventry.

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When the Idaho health insurance marketplace, Your Health Idaho, goes live on October 1, the state will be looking at two primary aspects that will decide the health and performance of the exchange in the years to come – Idaho insurance agents and the number of enrollments on the exchange. Although these two aspects are closely related, insurance agents takes precedence.

While insurance agents and brokers have been working in Idaho for a long time, a large number have concerns on the changes that the Affordable Care Act will bring. Some of those factors are:

•    The commissions and incentives insurance agents received in the past will decrease substantially once Your Health Idaho goes live. For instance, Regence BlueShield of Idaho is going to decrease the plan commission from $12 to $9.

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States like New Jersey have been getting a lot of attention ever since the conception of Obamacare health insurance marketplaces. There are multiple reasons for this, primarily because New Jersey, with approximately 900,000 uninsured residents, decided to utilize the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) and not to build its own exchange. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the state.

What’s on Track?

The FFM is on track to be live on October 1. There were concerns that the FFM wouldn’t be ready in time but those fears were allayed by a recent announcement by Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary. Since New Jersey has a higher percentage of uninsured residents than the national average, extra effort is being put in by the U.S. Health and Human Services office to alleviate any fears related to the implementation.

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The big day for health insurance marketplaces, October 1, is coming and Michiganians are looking forward to it. The view is that the exchange will bring better coverage, affordable health insurance and greater benefits. Expectations are running high and Michigan organizations are gearing up for the big day. So, how’s the preparation going? Let’s take a look.

The first, crucial step is to establish a marketplace with top insurance carriers who can provide affordable health insurance and a wide range of benefits. Fourteen health insurers submitted their plans and offerings, totaling approximately 170 plans, to the Michigan government for approval. The approval process is still underway and results are expected before the second week of September.

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From a general perspective, the health insurance marketplace is going to revolutionize health insurance. But it is going to be a tough path, especially when you consider the lack of general knowledge of the exchanges and the abundance of variables. At the same time, the outlook toward these marketplaces is generally positive. But, a closer look at Florida reveals that the state could be heading toward disruption.

Florida chose not to implement its own exchange and is relying to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). The main issue in Florida is that the top health insurance organizations and some businesses have not bought in to the marketplace. Why is this happening? Here are a few reasons why all is not well in Florida health insurance market.

•    Most businesses feel that government has been slow at implementing and spreading information about FFM.  Having more of an impact, though, is that the Affordable Care Act remains a lightning rod for politicians and residents.

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Contrary to the plan of reducing health insurance premiums through health insurance marketplaces, it seems that Mississippi residents who purchase health insurance off exchanges might encounter higher premiums than the current market average. Pundits are claiming that the rise in insurance premiums can be attributed to the fact that only two insurance carriers will be participating in the exchange.

As of now, 54,000 uninsured residents will have the choice of Humana and Magnolia Health for their insurance needs. Preliminary calculations are showing the average premium at $312 for Magnolia and $302 for Humana. In defense of this estimation, Mississippi officials have pointed out certain imperative aspects of these insurance premiums.

1)    Increased Coverage and Better Quality – In light of the higher premiums, officials state that the increased coverage and better quality of provided insurance is going to offset the higher premiums. In a nutshell, the premiums would still be competitive according to today’s market standards.

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As the State of Washington gears up to launch its health insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder, it is facing the herculean task of signing up its uninsured population. By sheer numbers, Washington aims to insure 130,000 uninsured residents by the end of 2013, and nearly 280,000 citizens in 2014.

To achieve this goal, Washington must educate and disseminate information to residents who aren’t familiar with the marketplace. The state has decided to tackle this challenge by launching a campaign that will address all the means of communication and outreach with advertisements and promotions. The state has secured $26.3 million federal grant for such programs.

The campaign will include the following:

•    Online Advertisements The state has already started to run advertisements on Washington Healthplanfinder over popular networks, such as Google, Yahoo. The state hopes to reach insured and uninsured residents, so that people may educate each other about the program.

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The health insurance marketplaces are being setup to provide consumers with more options and more choices. The online marketplaces are intended to bring together insurance carriers and promote competition with the aim of driving costs down. When the insurance marketplace goes live on October 1, consumers will be able to choose from a variety of carriers and find a plan that fits their needs and budget. However, Hawaii residents will be dealing a less choice on the Hawaiian marketplace.

The Hawaii health insurance exchange, Hawaii Health Connector, will open with two carriers, Hawaii Medical Service Association and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. There is some concern that with only two carriers, there will be a spike in rates once the marketplace launches.  There are multiple reasons for this worrying lack of competition in the state.

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As a part of the plan to have Maryland’s health insurance exchange, Maryland Health Connection, ready on October 1, they are reaching out to an important group that can help it sail through enrollments smoothly – health insurance brokers. With the deluge of new enrollments coming in soon, Maryland knows that brokers will be instrumental in taking some of the load off the state.

After October 1, Maryland expects 80,000 residents to use and enroll with the exchange. To meet the enrollment processing deadline of January 1, 2014, the state requires the help of brokers. As of now, nearly 900 brokers are registered with Maryland Health Connection, and Maryland hopes to increase the number of brokers. In an endeavor to attract more brokers, the state is hosting free training sessions and offering other benefits to brokers who sign up.

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As the deadline for health insurance marketplace implementation approaches, New York is moving full steam ahead with healthcare software. The state recently announced the name of its health insurance marketplace, “NY State of Health,” and plans to initiate marketing initiatives to capture the attention of uninsured New Yorkers, educate them on the marketplace and get them enrolled.

NY State of Health is attracting lot of attention, particularly because of the strategies New York is using to promote the exchange. In the coming weeks, New York will release ads that will reach out to different groups in the state and help them understand the benefits of enrollment. The central focus of the state will be

•    Promoting the expected savings for New Yorkers who enroll with the health insurance exchange. It is expected that the online marketplace will bring in benefits for uninsured Americans, and as many as 1 million Americans can expect a savings of up to 53 percent if they enroll in the new system.

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