RI gets approval for health insurance exchange

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The federal government has given initial approval to the insurance exchange Rhode Island is creating as part of the national health care overhaul.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday Rhode Island has made "significant progress" setting up the online insurance marketplace and granted conditional approval to operate it. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the state's on track to begin open enrollment in 10 months.

The state last week submitted a detailed progress report on its plans for the exchange. It's designed to connect businesses and individuals with health insurances providers.

Rhode Island is using $58 million in federal funds to create the exchange, which is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, everyone will be required to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty.