On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its long-awaited final rules related to the health insurance exchanges, (also referred to as health insurance marketplaces). The open enrollment period for the health insurance exchanges begins in less than 100 days. A copy of the final rule is available here.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), beginning on January 1, 2014, most individuals will have to maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage or face a penalty. The ACA provides that individuals who are members of an organized religion and those with limited incomes may be exempt from the individual mandate requirement. Today’s rule provides additional information on the standards and processes by which the health insurance exchanges will use to determine whether an individual is exempt from the individual mandate requirement.

The final rule also provides additional clarification on the ACA requirements on the standards that will be used to determine whether the health insurance coverage being offered by plans qualifies as minimum essential health coverage, as outlined under the ACA.