The Obama administration on Wednesday issued its long-awaited final rule on what states and insurers must do to provide the essential health benefits required in the individual and small-group market beginning in 2014 under the healthcare reform law.

A cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s plan to enhance the breadth of healthcare coverage in the United States, the mandate allows the 50 states a role in identifying benefit requirements and grants insurers a phased-in accreditation process for plans sold on federal healthcare exchanges.

Wednesday’s rule included few changes from previous administration proposals, a fact that could help states and insurers as they prepare for new online state health insurance marketplaces, known as healthcare exchanges, scheduled to begin enrolling beneficiaries for federally subsidized coverage on Oct. 1.