Health Insurance Marketplaces (also known as Exchanges) are organizations set up to create more organized and competitive markets for buying health insurance. They offer a choice of different health plans, certify plans that participate, and provide information and in-person assistance to help consumers understand their options and apply for coverage. Through the Marketplace, individuals and families can shop for coverage if they need to buy health insurance on their own. Premium and cost sharing subsidies based on income are available through the Marketplace to make coverage affordable for individuals and families. People with very low incomes can also find out at the Marketplace if they are eligible for coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Finally, small businesses can buy coverage for their employees through Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace plans.
There is a health insurance Marketplace in every state for individuals and families and for small businesses. Some are operated by the State and have a special state name (such as CoveredCalifornia or The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.) In other states where the federal government runs the Marketplace, it is called HealthCare.gov.