The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law on March 23, 2010. It has far-reaching effects for health care consumers, providers, and the insurance industry. Legislatively, it is likely the most disruptive innovation that the United States has seen since the advent of Medicare and Medicaid via the Social Security Act of 1965. One of the mandatory aspects of the law–and complementary to the expansion of Medicaid for very low-income individuals–is that each state must have a regulated health insurance marketplace (“marketplace”) in which individuals, families, and businesses can shop for and select insurance plans on an online platform and determine whether they qualify for advance tax credits, or subsidies, to help pay insurance premiums. Arkansas has engaged in a partnership with the federal government to operate the marketplace and is using it to facilitate expansion of coverage to low-income individuals who would have otherwise been eligible for Medicaid expansion through the PPACA.
This issue brief focuses on the purpose and structure of marketplaces generally and provides specific information about the Arkansas marketplace.