Maley said the department faces "no statutory deadline" for creating the list of essential benefits. However, the Affordable Care Act requires that HIX be up and running in 2014. Health plans have already expressed concern that they will face a tight timeline to develop, test and market a health insurance product that can be ready for HIX. Off the record, insurers have suggested that a six- to 18-month timeline is not out of question.
IOM has recommended that the list be developed by May 1, 2012.
Walt Cherniak, a spokesperson for Aetna, noted that the rollout for an essential health benefits product could be different from how the large insurer usually introduces a new product. "We usually work from customer demand. This time we'll be putting together mandated benefits and mandated design."