Health Insurance

Health insurance premiums in Idaho will go up in 2018, between 6 and 81 percent depending on the plan you choose.  That's according to proposed increases to the price of your health care plan.

Each year, insurance companies operating in Idaho send their planned price hikes to the Department of Insurance. The proposed increases were released Monday for 2018.

The proposed average overall statewide rate increase is 38 percent. The average price for Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans are all going up, with Silver plans averaging a 50 percent increase.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

After being constructed in secret by a small group of Republican senators, a push is underway to pass a bill reforming the nation's health care system.

For perspective on what changes could be in store both nationally and in Idaho, Matt Guilhem spoke to Dr. David Pate, the President and CEO of St. Luke's Health System.

AP

An Idaho House panel has introduced legislation that would create a new state program designed to provide basic health care to Idaho adults who currently don't have health insurance.

The Spokesman-Review reports that House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Wood, a Republican from Burley, said Monday that his $10 million proposal would be funded by a state endowment fund.

Wood's plan would only offer primary care services on a first-come, first-served basis.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter’s 11th State of the State address Monday focused on a number of key issues in the state. But one area the governor spent little time discussing was what’s known as the Medicaid gap, which impacts an estimated 78,000 Idahoans.

insurance exchange, computer, your health idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Though there will be more options for health insurance available on Your Idaho Health's marketplace this year, premiums will be higher than in 2016.

The Idaho Statesman reports that premiums will be about 24 percent higher on average in 2017 than they were in 2016. The price each person pays depends on factors such as age, geographic location and desired levels of insurance coverage, among other factors.

Blue Cross of Idaho Ad
Sawyer Miller for Blue Cross of Idaho

If you buy your own health insurance rather than getting it from an employer, you’ll probably pay more for it next year, maybe a lot more. Health insurance carriers have told the Idaho Department of Insurance what changes they want to make to plans next year and the department has posted those proposed changes on its website. Six insurers want to make substantial rate increases that average 27 percent.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building House Chambers
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Last month, Idaho Governor Butch Otter proposed a plan to provide health care to the estimated 78,000 Idahoans who don’t qualify for either Medicaid or subsidized health insurance under Idaho’s health exchange. The Primary Care Access Program would've subsidized basic doctor visits for those people, but last week a legislative committee voted against using tobacco settlement money to partially fund the $30 million proposal.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced a new proposal Thursday that he says would help low income Idahoans get health care.

The Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) still needs to be approved by the Idaho Legislature. It is designed to help adults 19-64 who don’t have health insurance.

Otter says Idaho doesn’t want to expand Medicaid and PCAP will help the 78,000 people who fall through the cracks of the current system.

Your Health Idaho

Idahoans who buy their health insurance through the state-based health exchange will have more options but face higher costs while shopping for coverage for 2016.

The third year of sign-ups for coverage through yourhealthidaho.org begins Sunday. That means people have until Dec. 15 to sign up for insurance — or switch policies — to ensure coverage will begin on New Year's Day.

Pat Kelly, executive director of Your Health Idaho, says the exchange will offer more than 200 plans.

A.Currell / Flickr

As Idaho gets ready for the third year of using a state health exchange under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are still adapting to the new system. This month, those companies announced some proposed rate increases for insurance policies next year.

The Associated Press reported last week that Blue Cross of Idaho has asked for the most rate hikes.

“[That’s] simply because we offer more plan options for people,” says Josh Jordan, manager of Corporate Communications with Blue Cross of Idaho. He says every insurance carrier in the state asked for increases.

Some women may be paying hefty fees for birth control pills, vaginal rings and emergency contraception, despite a federal requirement that insurers pay their full cost. And some women only have coverage for a less effective type of emergency contraception, according to a report released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Data: U.S. Census Bureau | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The share of uninsured Idahoans ticked up slightly in 2013, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Small Area Health Insurance Estimate from Census shows 18.8 percent of Idahoans under the age of  65 didn't have health insurance in 2013. That's the year before health insurance subsidies took effect through Idaho's insurance exchange.

Idaho ranked among the top 15 states with the most uninsured people, tying with Arkansas at 11. Census data show Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured people, while Texas had the highest.

According to the Census measure, Idaho's uninsured rate in 2012 was 18.5 percent.

Tyler / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials with Idaho's health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, say 83,383 people enrolled for insurance between November 15-December 31. That number includes people who were already enrolled and renewed their coverage, as well as new insurance customers.

Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly says the number of people signing on has had its ups and downs in the last two months, but he's pleased overall.

census.gov

The percentage of Idahoans with no health insurance was unchanged between 2012 and 2013. A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau says 16.2 percent of the state’s residents lacked health coverage in 2013. That’s about 257,000 people.

The nation as a whole saw a slight decline in the uninsured in that time, from 14.8 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013.

medical stock, scale, healthcare
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's employee health insurance plans are comparable to the federal government's most expensive option offered under the Affordable Care Act and better than what most private companies provide.

According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts released Tuesday, Idaho covers 93 percent of all medical costs for state employees.

That compares to private Idaho employers, where plans generally cover 80 percent of medical costs.

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