On every exchange, business owners and individuals were supposed to be able to see how much they would pay for plans from an array of insurers, apply for new tax breaks, enroll in plans and pay their premiums, all online.
In addition, to help small business owners reign in their health costs, the exchanges were supposed to allow employers to choose different plans for different employees, rather than one plan for their entire company.
In other words, this is how it is supposed to work.
On day one, though, many of those features will not be available, as both sides of the exchanges, but particularly the small business marketplaces, have been saddled with a number of delays — most of them stemming from the sheer scope of the technology and infrastructure required to operate the online portals.
Here is a full rundown of what individuals and employers can expect to see in each state when the new insurance exchanges open on Tuesday.
California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island are on track to launch new exchanges with all the intended functions on Tuesday.
As a result, in those nine states, individuals and business owners will be able compare coverage offered by various insurers and enroll in a plan online. They will also be able to see which tax breaks they are eligible for under Obamacare.
Everywhere else, the exchanges are scheduled to open with some missing parts.
Thirty-four states decided to let the federal government run all or part of their marketplaces: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In April, Department of Health and Human Services officials announced they would delay for one year the option for employers to choose various plans to cover different workers. On the federal exchanges, therefore, small business owners must choose one plan for their entire company until 2015.
Obama administration officials announced another delay last week, explaining that, due to technical problems, small business owners would not be able to enroll in coverage online until November. That is, they will still be able to create an account and compare options, but they will not be able to select and register for a plan (this will not affect the possible start-date for new plans, which is scheduled for Jan. 1 at the earliest).