The establishment of an exchange involves a massive data compilation process in which the federal government will have to figure out Americans’ income levels to determine their eligibility to receive benefits. The exchanges are supposed to be up by the fall of 2013 so that individuals can begin enrolling in them.

Each state faces its own challenges in setting up the exchanges. In Washington, D.C., officials determined that the uninsured population was too small for the exchange to function. So they have taken the step of conscripting individuals and businesses with between two and 50 employees to purchase health insurance through the exchange, making it the sole marketplace in D.C. for plans that aren’t “grandfathered in.”…

With a number of Republican governors deciding that letting the Obama administration set up their state-based exchanges is the lesser of bad options, the federal government will be facing a number of logistical challenges to getting them up and running.