What’s The Difference Between State, Federal, and Private Health Insurance Marketplaces?

While most people get their health insurance from their spouses, jobs, or school, self-employed or unemployed individuals have to rely on the health insurance marketplace to purchase a policy that suits their lifestyle and income. Government and privately-managed marketplaces provide an easy way for individuals to compare various quotes, review different plans without making phone calls, and find answers to multiple questions.

A health marketplace is a useful tool that serves small businesses, families, and individuals. Through this resource, you can enroll in a plan that suits your healthcare needs and detects valuable tax credits.

Public vs. private marketplaces

Either the federal government or state governments manage the public medical insurance marketplace, while private companies run private exchanges. While government exchanges are usually limited to qualified health plans (i.e. ACA-compliant plans), private exchanges have more flexibility to offer non-qualified plans that may be more cost-effective.

For example, compare healthcare.gov versus a private exchange like AHiX Marketplace. The former only offers ACA-compliant plans, while the latter offers all of those plans in addition to cheaper short-term or limited coverage plans. So if full coverage isn’t your primary concern and you’re mostly interested in saving money, you can find affordable health insurance at AHiX Marketplace and other private healthcare exchanges like it.

Private health marketplace

Private exchanges provide a wide variety of options, so you can receive valuable insight into different coverage types before committing to a plan. Using these private health marketplaces, you can find affordable policies with extensive coverage.

As a first step, you’ll need to verify whether you’re eligible for government subsidies. If you qualify, you can apply for these government subsidies, while also accessing off-exchange plans, benefitting from Obamacare, and exploring main healthcare alternatives such as short-term medical insurance.

Although these marketplaces must meet all the on-change plan requirements, they aren’t obligated to provide policies that cut across the four metal tiers. Therefore, companies are free to tailor their services to suit specific individuals. Private marketplace plans often base their premiums on the consumer’s age, policy type, tobacco use, and location.

State-based marketplaces

States can choose to run their entire marketplace, including the enrollment and eligibility platform, at the state level or manage their exchange while utilizing the government’s healthcare website as their platform.

By definition, a state-based marketplace (SBM) refers to a marketplace where the state government regulates its health plan and the platform for enrollment and eligibility. These types of health insurance marketplace assume responsibility for consumer assistance, marketing, and outreach responsibilities.

Before a state creates a state-based exchange, it must submit a declaration letter to convey its intentions to the center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The states with SBE include California, New York, Nevada, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington D.C, Idaho, Maryland, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Vermont, Colorado, and Washington. If you have questions you can connect with an online tax expert or CPA through the new TurboTax Live service.

In State-based Marketplace-Federal Platform (SBM-FP), a state government is responsible for running all the exchange functions but still relies on Healthcare.gov to fulfill enrollment and eligibility functions. As a result, residents of these states apply for their healthcare plans through the federal government’s website. The states with this system in-place include Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon, and New Jersey.

States that wish to transition to SBE should consider directing their attention to enrollment support outreach, marketing investments, and the protection of consumers from scrupulous insurer and web-broker marketing practices and subpar health coverage.

These states should also strive for a no-wrong door enrollment and eligibility system to facilitate easy consumer enrollment to state medical programs like Medicaid and SBM plans. In addition, those transitioning to SBE should aspire to offer high-quality and convenient services to its residents by allocating sufficient resources to SBM initiatives.

Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM)

A Federally Facilitated Marketplace is a health insurance marketplace managed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). States that haven’t established or did not get approval to create their state marketplace can use the federal exchange by setting it through HHS’s state secretary.

Employers and individuals can apply for QHP through the federal-run marketplace. The system allows qualified individuals to get Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC), which subsidize premiums. Additionally, eligible individuals can also use Cost-SharingCost-Sharing Reductions (CSRs) to lower their out-of-pocket costs. These benefits help to make healthcare more affordable, especially for low-income households.

The states participating in FFM are Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, and New Jersey. Furthermore, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, Utah, and Wyoming also use FFM. Brokers and agents who wish to help consumers navigate the federal marketplace and enroll for a health insurance plan must undergo annual training and registration.

The enrollment process

It is a reasonably straightforward process, so you’ll be able to complete the task-at-hand without seeking assistance from a loved one or expert. As a first step, you’ll need to decide whether you should use a government-run or private marketplace. To make a final decision, compare different options to find one that will fulfill your healthcare needs. Note that if you choose to use a federal or state exchange, you’ll need to sign up to the appropriate site and complete a short application before viewing the available plans.


It’s essential to consider all your options and gather the necessary information about your state’s marketplaces before health buying insurance. If you do your due diligence, you can acquire comprehensive, sustainable, affordable, and accessible health coverage.

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