"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended) requires health insurance exchanges (also known as marketplaces) to be established in every state. ACA exchanges are marketplaces in which individuals and small businesses can shop for and purchase private health insurance coverage. Exchanges are intended to simplify the experience of providing and obtaining health insurance. They are not intended to supplant the private market outside of the exchanges but to provide an additional source of private health insurance coverage. This report provides an overview of the various components of the health insurance exchanges. The report includes summary information about how exchanges are structured, the intended consumers for health insurance exchange plans, and consumer assistance available in the exchanges, as specified in the ACA. The report also describes the availability of financial assistance for certain exchange consumers and small businesses and outlines the range of plans offered through exchanges. Moreover, the report provides a brief summary of the implementation and operation of exchanges since 2014. While the report provides a high-level description of exchanges, it also includes references to other CRS [Congressional Research Service] reports that provide further information."
CRS Report for Congress, R44065
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html