ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Big changes are coming in how a fourth of all Minnesotans get health insurance as the state rushes to build a new kind of marketplace that will help about 1.3 million people choose their best coverage options.

It's called a health care exchange, a centerpiece of the Obama administration's health care overhaul. If it lives up to advance billing, consumers will go to a web site similar to Expedia or Travelocity where they can get the information they need to choose a plan, learn if they qualify for financial assistance and sign up — all in less than an hour.

Leading this construction project is April Todd-Malmlov, a 35-year-old mother of two who grew up in the small northwestern Minnesota town of Halstad and shows a knack for rattling off facts and figures without notes. For the past two years, she's been grappling with them as executive director of Minnesota's health care exchange.

Minnesota is one of 17 states plus the District of Columbia that are building their exchanges themselves instead of letting the federal government do it or partnering with the feds, and her work involves much more than just setting up a web site.

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