Hawaii State Capitol (Wikimedia Commons image)

HONOLULU (AP) — The federal government is approving technical designs for a new online health insurance marketplace Hawaii is setting up under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s office says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services both approved the plans on Monday.

The online marketplace is called Hawaii Health Connector.

It’s designed to provide insurance to middle-class households who currently can’t get their own. Individuals and small businesses may use the exchange to select a private health plan.

Hawaii Health Connector will start signing up customers on Oct. 1 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

Executive Director Coral Andrews says the announcement signals the exchange has made significant progress.

The exchange last week announced that it has awarded a $12 million, multi-year contact center development, implementation and management contract to Maximus Health Services Inc. The company will be hiring about 25 people for a contact center to be based on Oahu, officials said.

Allison Bell added information to this report.

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