What You Need To Know About Idaho's Health Insurance Exchange

Oct 1, 2013

Credit Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idahoans who don’t have health insurance can now start to shop for and buy insurance through the state’s online marketplace which launches today.

Nearly 19 percent of Idaho’s population under the age of 65 don’t have health insurance. Up to 200,000 Idahoans could be eligible for the subsidized health insurance or Medicaid through the state exchange.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog has done a fantastic job outlining the basics of this piece of Obamacare. Here is some info to get you started with Idaho's marketplace.

Where do people go to shop for and buy insurance on Idaho’s exchange?

Idaho’s health insurance exchange website is YourHealthIdaho.org. That’s where people can go to research their available options. If you don’t have access to a computer, the phone number to call for assistance is 855-944-3246.

Is anyone without health insurance eligible to buy coverage at YourHealthIdaho.org?

The short answer is yes. If you are uninsured, your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, and you don’t have Medicaid or Medicare – YourHealthIdaho.org is the place to start.

It’s estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 Idahoans will be eligible for subsidized health insurance or Medicaid. Idaho is not expanding Medicaid coverage to more low income Idahoans, but the state knows there are people out there who qualify, but who just haven’t signed up.

What will happen to Idahoans who don’t qualify for Medicaid and who don’t qualify for subsidized health insurance through the exchange?

That’s what’s called the coverage gap. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates of the 25 states that aren’t expanding Medicaid to more people, about 7 million uninsured adults may fall into this coverage gap. In Idaho, the Department of Health and Welfare estimates 77,000 people aren't poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but are at 100 percent of the federal poverty level and don't qualify for subsidized health insurance through the exchange.

This is something that will start to shake out overtime as policymakers begin to see where the gaps are.

Open enrollment at YourHealthIdaho.org starts today – how long does that last, and what can people expect at the site?

Open enrollment starts today and goes through March 31. If you choose not to buy insurance, you'll be subject to a $95 penalty in the 2015 tax year. That penalty will increase each year.

Once you're logged on to YourHealthIdaho.org – you’ll find 7 different insurance companies to chose from. They’ll offer 146 different plans that fall under the federal government’s tiered program. The tiers are named Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze – with Platinum having the highest premiums with the most robust coverage – and Bronze having the lowest premiums, but you can expect higher out-of-pocket costs in the instance you get sick and need medical care.

The marketplace will ask some basic questions like; your age, where you live, whether you smoke and your annual income. With Obamacare, preexisting conditions will no longer disqualify someone for coverage – and gender is no longer taken into account.

If you already have insurance through your job, Medicare, or the VA – you don’t have to do anything right now?

Right. Idaho's health insurance exchange launch is for people who don’t have insurance and are ready to start shopping for subsidized coverage.

The exchange websites across the country are expected to experience some glitches in the first few days. If you need assistance in Idaho, the phone number to call is 855-944-3246.