On October 1, Health Insurance Marketplaces, or health exchanges, created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care (PPACA) officially opened. These exchanges permit individuals and small businesses to compare prices and deductibles, and purchase policies. All of the plans on these exchanges cover certain essential health benefits, cover pre-existing conditions and provide for preventative care.
States were afforded the opportunity to establish their own exchanges if they met certain federal requirements. 36 states opted instead to let the federal government administer exchanges within their states. In 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates 7 million people will sign up for individual coverage in and 2 million will sign up for coverage through a small business plan under the exchanges.