WASHINGTON — Hawaii is getting $14 million from the federal government to implement an insurance exchange program meant to help individuals and small businesses find affordable health care online.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the grant in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. Hawaii is one of 13 states that will receive a share of nearly $220 million for such programs.

Exchanges are a key component of the Obama administration’s national health-care law, and they’re meant to force providers to “compete for customers,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

The idea is that individuals will be mandated to purchase insurance, but they’ll also be able to come together to get better prices and more robust coverage.

“For years Americans have known that our health-insurance market is broken,” Sebelius said. “Shopping for coverage has become a daunting task… Exchanges will give consumers more choices and make it easy to compare and shop for insurance plans.”

According to federal rules, exchanges will become operational in January 2014.

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