The Washington Times - December 17, 2012, 11:42AM

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have moved forward with plans to set up their own statewide health-insurance-buying exchanges ahead of a key deadline.

States had until Friday to submit applications to the federal government to establish state-based exchanges. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced the list of states that met the deadline, which comprised California, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah, Kentucky, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon and Washington.

SEE RELATED:


States also can choose to set up an exchange under a state-federal partnership, with a decision on that option due Feb. 15. If any state is undecided after that, the federal government will run that state’s exchange.

Exchanges, a major component of the federal Affordable Care Act, are design dot be marketplace where individuals and small businesses can shop for the most affordable coverage and where many will get help from the government to pay their premiums.

About half the nation’s states say they’ll take a pass on the setting up their own health care exchanges, ceding the responsibility to the federal government.

Open enrollment for the exchanges is set to begin in October, with coverage to start in January 2014.

“While last week was one milestone, we are not taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach to exchanges,” Mrs. Sebelius said. “Many states are making impressive progress, and we are committed to working with all states as we approach open enrollment in October 2013.”