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Grant will kick start new state health insurance exchange

The Illinois Department of Insurance has been awarded a $5.1 million federal grant to develop and maintain a health insurance exchange where consumers can shop for coverage.

The nation's new health care law requires the exchanges to be running in states by 2014.

Insurance exchanges will allow people and small businesses to comparison shop online for insurance. The concept has been described as Travelocity for health insurance.

The grant will help Illinois design the information infrastructure. It will go toward hiring staff to plan and coordinate with consultants to create the design features.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement released Tuesday that the grant will help create a strong exchange and develop tools to make it easy for everyone to use.

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