CMS recently issued a detailed timeline that outlines the steps they will take to implement the health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act between now and October 1.

The timeline breaks down the schedule into four categories: policy, operations and information technology, issuers and states, and consumer assistance.

Policy timeline:

  • February: Essential health benefits, exchange rules and payment notice released;
  • March: Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentages rule released; and
  • April: Eligibility rule for the exchanges, Medicaid and CHIP appeals released.

IT timeline:

  • April: Insurers submit Quality Health Plan rating and benefit data for the federal exchanges;
  • August: QHP plan reviewed for the federal and federal-state partnership exchanges; and
  • September: IT development and integration testing completed.

Issuers and states’ timeline:

  • February: State-federal exchange blueprints released;
  • March: HHS makes final decisions on exchanges and quality health plans (QHP) plans are complete; and
  • July: State insurance departments approve QHPs and state-federal partnership exchanges complete their QHP reviews.

Consumer assistance timeline:

  • June: Website is re-launched and the call center is launched;
  • July: The navigator portal is available; and
  • October: Enrollment begins.

Also, between April and July CMS plans to roll out a program in which “navigators” will be in hospital emergency departments to help individuals get enrolled in health coverage. In addition, CMS will send teams from regional offices to individual hospitals to help them to prepare to enroll uninsured individuals.