Health Exchange Rules Flexible

States can set their own standards for which insurers to include.

States will be able to set their own standards for determining which insurers can sell medical coverage in online marketplaces that will serve an estimated 24 million people under the U.S. health-care overhaul.

Rules announced today by the Obama administration allow states to determine whether insurers led by UnitedHealth Group Inc. must bid to compete in the exchanges, or meet general standards set by the state that fit within broad federal guidelines. They also allow states to pool their exchanges.

Accommodating Stance

“It looks like they tried to be as accommodating to states as they possibly could,” said Thomas Barker, the former acting general counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

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