By Elise Viebeck - 01/17/13 04:56 PM EST
Health insurance exchanges are the central component of President Obama's healthcare law, allowing consumers to shop for coverage in an online system that accounts for their eligibility for tax credits.
According to HHS, 49 states have received grants to plans their marketplaces while 34 have received awards to begin constructing them.
Federal health officials have extended deadlines for equivocating states to decide whether to run their own exchanges, cede the task to HHS, or form a partnership.
"To ensure states have the support and time they need to build a marketplace, states may apply for grants through the end of 2014 and may use funds through their start-up year," HHS said Thursday.