Frequently asked questions about health insurance coverage options in Idaho
Idaho’s state-run health insurance marketplace is called Your Health Idaho. The exchange serves people who buy their own health insurance in the individual market, small businesses, and some populations that are eligible for Medicaid in Idaho. People who buy individual market coverage include early retirees who aren’t yet eligible for Medicaid, self-employed individuals, and people who are employed by a small business that doesn’t provide health benefits.
Idaho was initially the only state to create its own state-run health insurance marketplace but also reject Medicaid expansion. But Medicaid expansion did eventually take effect in Idaho in 2020, after voters approved a Medicaid expansion ballot measure in 2018.
Learn more about the Idaho health insurance marketplace.
Idaho takes a unique approach to open enrollment. Instead of starting in November and continuing into January like the rest of the country, Your Health Idaho’s open enrollment period runs from October 15 to December 15.
Note that the October 15 start date is new for the fall of 2022; in prior years, open enrollment began November 1 in Idaho. And the enrollment dates are subject to change in future years as well.
Idaho residents with a qualifying life event can enroll in an ACA-compliant plan outside of open enrollment, and may be eligible for a subsidy.
Native Americans can enroll in coverage year-round, as can anyone eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
In Idaho, consumers may be able to buy affordable individual and family health insurance by enrolling through the ACA marketplace (HealthCare.gov). Nearly 90% of consumers who enrolled in 2022 coverage through their state exchange received premium subsidies.
Idahoans may also find affordable coverage through Medicaid if they’re eligible. See Medicaid eligibility guidelines in Idaho.
Short-term health insurance is also a lower-cost coverage option in Idaho, where a handful of insurers offer short-term plans.
Eight health insurance companies offer individual/family coverage for 2023 through Your Health Idaho:
- Blue Cross of Idaho
- Mountain Health CO-OP
- Select Health
- Regence BlueShield of Idaho
- St. Luke’s Health Plan (new for 2023)
- Moda Health (new for 2023)
Regence offered individual market coverage in the state as of 2020, but only outside the exchange (enrollment was fairly low, at just 1,200 people). Regence joined the exchange for 2021, bringing the total number of participating exchange insurers to five. (Regence also joined the exchange in Washington for 2021, as well as the exchange in Oregon, after previously offering off-exchange coverage.)
Molina joined the exchange for 2022. And St. Luke’s and Moda joined the exchange for 2023, bringing insurer participation in Your Health Idaho to a record-high eight insurers.
For 2023 coverage, the existing six insurers that already offered coverage through Your Health Idaho implemented an overall average rate decrease of 3.6%. The rate decrease was noteworthy, as average rates in nearly every state increased for 2023. But Idaho’s new reinsurance program (effective in 2023) resulted in lower full-price premiums for 2023.
For 2022 coverage, the five insurers that already offered plans through Your Health Idaho implemented an overall average rate decrease of 2%. And for 2021, they implemented an overall average rate increase of about 1%.
Enrollment in private individual market plans dropped significantly in Idaho in 2020, due in large part to the expansion of Medicaid. People with income between 100% and 138% of the poverty level had previously been eligible for premium subsidies for private plans, but became eligible for Medicaid instead as of 2020. Enrollment dropped again in 2021, with about 69,000 people signing up for coverage during the open enrollment period.
For 2022, however, enrollment increased to 73,359 people. The higher enrollment numbers were driven largely by the American Rescue Plan‘s subsidy enhancements, which have made individual/family health coverage (purchased through Your Health Idaho) more affordable. The Inflation Reduction Act continues those subsidy enhancements through 2025.
Idaho is a solidly “red” state, and many politicians and residents staunchly oppose the Affordable Care Act. At the federal level, both Idaho senators voted against the ACA in 2010, as did one of two representatives. Rep. Walt Minnick (D) was the sole “yes” vote from Idaho; Raúl Labrador subsequently replaced him in the U.S. House, serving until 2019 when Russ Fulcher became the Representative from Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. Like Labrador, Fulcher opposes the ACA.
Idaho is one of the only Republican-controlled states that implemented a state-run marketplace. Former Gov. Butch Otter, while critical of the ACA, advocated for a state-run marketplace as a better option than the federally facilitated marketplace. Legislation authorizing the state-run exchange, which is named Your Health Idaho, passed and was signed into law in 2013.
With not enough time to get all functions operational before ACA’s open enrollment period, Idaho residents used HealthCare.gov to sign up for coverage in 2014.
By the fall of 2014, in time for open enrollment for 2015 coverage, Your Health Idaho completed its successful transition to a state-run exchange and began operating independently of the federal marketplace. Your Health Idaho has continued to be a fully state-run exchange, utilizing its own enrollment platform, since 2015.
Idaho lawmakers rejected Medicaid expansion for several years, but voters in Idaho passed a Medicaid expansion ballot initiative in the 2018 election. As a result, Medicaid coverage expansion in Idaho took effect January 1, 2020. By 2022, enrollment in Idaho’s expanded Medicaid plans had surpassed 121,000 people.
Eligibility for Medicaid in Idaho now extends to all non-elderly adults with household income up to 138% of the poverty level.
Prior to 2020, an estimated 119,000 Idaho residents are in the coverage gap — ineligible for subsidies in the exchange and also ineligible for Medicaid coverage. But there is no longer a coverage gap in Idaho, because the state has expanded Medicaid.
Read more about Medicaid coverage expansion in Idaho.
Idaho allows two types of short-term health insurance coverage, which have differing regulations.
Traditional short-term health insurance plans in the state are non-renewable and cannot have terms in excess of 364 days. But the state allowed for the creation of new “enhanced” short-term health insurance plans that became available as of 2020 with longer terms and much more robust benefits and consumer protections.
Read more about short-term health insurance in Idaho.
As of August 2022, there were more than 370,000 Idaho residents enrolled in Medicare. Most are eligible based on their age, but about 11% of Idaho’s Medicare beneficiaries are under the age of 65 and are eligible for Medicare due to a disability.
You can read more about Medicare enrollment in Idaho, including details about private Medicare plans — Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D prescription plans, and Medigap — and how the state regulates Medigap policies.
Before the ACA’s individual health insurance market reforms, coverage was medically underwritten in nearly every state, including Idaho. People with pre-existing conditions were often unable to purchase private plans, or could only get policies that excluded their pre-existing conditions or charged them increased premiums because of their healthcare history.
The Idaho Individual High-Risk Reinsurance Pool (HRP) was created in 2001 to give people an alternative means of obtaining coverage if they were unable to purchase a private plan because of their medical history. By 2010, there were 1,565 members in the Idaho HRP.
Idaho’s HRP had a fairly unique design, in that each insurer in the state was required to participate, and had to offer five standardized HRP plans. If a person applied for individual market coverage and the insurer’s underwriting determined that the applicant would be a high risk, they would be able to select from among the five HRP plans offered by that insurer instead, with premiums capped at no more than 150% of the premiums charged for healthy enrollees in the non-HRP plans.
One of the primary reforms brought about by the ACA is guaranteed issue individual coverage; medical history is no longer taken into consideration when an application is submitted. Thus the need for high-risk pools has largely disappeared. The Idaho risk pool stopped enrolling new members at the end of 2013, and the state instructed the insurers to no longer issue new high risk pool plans after April 2017.