Your Health Idaho extended until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 20, the deadline for new enrollees to pick a health plan for coverage starting Jan. 1. However, the original Dec. 15 deadline to apply for premium subsidies did not change. Consumers must get payment for the first month’s premium to their selected insurance company by Dec. 31 to have coverage effective Jan. 1.
Your Health Idaho decided to extend the deadline given increasing long times at the call center and a problem with a broken link in an email sent to some consumers. Your Health Idaho has added call center staff since open enrollment started on Nov. 15. Currently, about 125 representatives are handling calls. Wait times were under five minutes in late November and more 40 minutes on at least one day in early December.
State-run exchange launch is ‘flawless’
Your Health Idaho is running completely on its own for the ACA’s second open enrollment period, and it got off to an “absolutely flawless” start on Nov. 15 according to the exchange’s executive director.
Idaho relied on HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, for enrollment functions during the first open enrollment period. To get ready for 2015, Idaho transitioned to its own technology. The move paid off as Your Health Idaho handled about 13,000 unique visitors and 700 callers during the first two days of open enrollment. Enrollment numbers will be released monthly.
Your Health Idaho touts a low assessment fee as one of biggest consumer benefits to running its own exchange. For both 2014 and 2015 policies, Your Health Idaho is charging an assessment fee of 1.5 percent of premium cost. On the federal marketplace, the fee is 3.5 percent.
Automatic re-enrollment on track
People who had coverage through Your Health Idaho in 2014 and didn’t take any action by Dec. 15 were automatically re-enrolled. A spokesperson for Your Health Idaho told the Idaho Statesman that auto-renewals were progressing smoothly, and the exchange expected the process to be completed by Dec. 15.
You can browse 2015 rates and estimate your subsidy on Your Health Idaho.
New insurer joins Your Health Idaho
A new insurer was approved by the Idaho Department of Insurance: Mountain Health CO-OP. Blue Cross of Idaho, BridgeSpan Health Company, PacificSource Health Plans, and SelectHealth returned to the exchange for 2015.
2014 enrollment recap
More than 76,000 Idahoans signed up for health insurance during the first enrollment period. That’s 36,000 more than the target set by the federal government, and in a state of only 1.7 million people, the per-capita enrollment ranks Idaho third in the nation for plans purchased during the first open enrollment period.
Among Idaho residents selecting a QHP, 92 percent qualified for financial assistance, compared to 85 percent nationally. Only Mississippi and Wyoming had higher rates of individuals eligible for assistance. A report released in June by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed the average monthly premium, after tax credits, for Idaho consumers was $68. Fifty percent of those Idaho enrollees who qualified for subsidies pay $50 or less per month after subsidies.
During the 2014 open enrollment period, 15 percent of Idaho residents selected a bronze plan (20 percent nationally), 72 percent selected a silver plan (65 percent nationally), 10 percent selected a gold plan (9 percent nationally), 3 percent selected a platinum plan (5 percent nationally) and 1 percent selected a catastrophic plan (2 percent nationally). Twenty-seven percent of Idaho enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34.
Agents and brokers: key to success
Your Health Idaho created a strong partnership with agents and brokers in the state, and 50 percent of the exchange’s 2014 enrollments were facilitated by agents and brokers. Your Health Idaho refers to agents and brokers as a “backbone” of the exchange, and credits the partnership with them as the main factor that drove enrollment in 2014.
History of Idaho’s marketplace development
Republican Gov. Butch Otter announced in December 2012 that Idaho would implement a state-run health insurance exchange, and HHS gave conditional approval of the state’s plan in early January 2013. The state-run option was resisted by both the governor and many Republican legislators. Like those in other “red” states, Idaho leaders hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would find the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. However, after the Court upheld most elements of the ACA and a state task force in October 2012 strongly recommended a state-run exchange, Otter began leaning toward that option as preferable to a federally run exchange. After Otter’s announcement in December, legislators began considering legislation, and both chambers passed bills authorizing a state-run in exchange in the first quarter of 2013. However, that left scant time to set up the exchange. For the first open enrollment period, Idaho used the federal site, but will be switching to an entirely state-run platform by November 2014.
Idaho is the only state that opted to build its own marketplace, but decided against expanding eligibility for its Medicaid program. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the decision means about 55,000 low-income, non-elderly adults will fall into the coverage gap — meaning they don’t qualify for Medicaid or for subsidies to help them purchase private coverage. While a Medicaid workgroup appointed by Gov. Otter supports Medicaid expansion, there is little to no support in the state legislature. The issue of Medicaid expansion is expected to come before the legislature again in the 2015 session.
Idaho health insurance exchange links
Your Health Idaho
Idaho Health Insurance Exchange
This site provides information about exchange planning and start-up; a consumer-facing site is under development.
State Exchange Profile: Idaho
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Idaho’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Idaho Department of Insurance
Answers questions about insurance bought on the individual market and insurance provided by an employer who only does business in Idaho.
(208) 334-4250 / toll-free (800) 721-3272