In the United States, approximately two-thirds of the non-elderly population are covered by health plans on the private market. Before the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), there were two ways consumers could receive health insurance coverage: 1) through insurance offered by an employer or 2) by purchasing an individual plan directly from the health insurance company. Consumers receiving insurance through an employer usually enjoy lower costs because the employer pays for some or all of the premiums. Consumers purchasing individual private insurance usually experienced higher costs because they are responsible for all premiums and other costs. Due to these costs, many individuals who did not receive coverage through an employer went without health insurance altogether.
A major goal of the Affordable Care Act was to make it easier and more affordable for consumers to purchase individual plans. The primary mechanism toward this goal was the creation of state-based competitive private health insurance markets called Health Insurance Marketplaces (commonly referred to as “Marketplaces” or “Exchange markets”). These marketplaces provide millions of Americans and small businesses with the ability to shop for private health insurance.
When policymakers discuss healthcare reform, private insurance is often at the forefront of the discussion.
Key Issues and Proposals