Health Insurance

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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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's health insurance exchange announced Monday that more than 76,000 Idahoans have signed up for coverage through the new online marketplace created through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. 

“We are very, very pleased with the outcomes for our six months of the launch of Your Health Idaho,” said Executive Director Amy Dowd.

Dowd says the Congressional Budget Office wanted to have 40,000 Idahoans sign up through the exchange during the first six-month open-enrollment period. Your Health Idaho exceeded that target by more than 36,000 people.

capitol, statehouse, idaho
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The House Health and Welfare Committee rejected a proposal to increase health care coverage for low-income Idahoans, putting the final nail in the coffin of Medicaid expansion hopes.

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, had promoted the bill as a way to help the state's poor, who are particularly vulnerable without coverage, as well as save hospitals and businesses millions.

Dentist
Defence Images / Flickr Creative Commons

Trying to reduce Medicaid's dental expenses has been like pulling teeth.

That's what Department of Health and Welfare officials said Tuesday, describing how a decision in 2011 to dump dental coverage for 27,000 adults led to a doubling of dental-related emergency room services.

The Spokesman-Review reports monthly emergency-room costs rose to $65,000 now, from just $30,000 two years ago.

emergency room, hospital
Chealion / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study has found that previously uninsured people who were given health coverage through Medicaid used the emergency room 40 percent more than others who weren't able to join the program.

The findings were published Thursday by the journal Science. They suggest that hospitals and health officials around the nation need to be prepared for an increase in emergency room trips as millions of Americans gain insurance this week under the federal health care law, many of them through Medicaid.

Idaho's insurance exchange will begin paid marketing around Dec. 20, a delay of more than a month.

Still, don't expect to see Your Health Idaho television advertising over Christmas.

Consultants told the exchange's board Thursday holiday TV spots were too expensive, so this initial "bridge" marketing will concentrate instead on radio, Internet and newspapers.

The exchange's $3 million-plus ad campaign has been pushed back due to software problems since Oct. 1.

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Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

While the number of Idahoans who've signed up for subsidized health plans through the state's insurance exchange increased in November, enrollment hasn't made much of a dent in the number of uninsured people in Idaho.

“The number of individuals who have selected a marketplace plan and are considered enrolled through the process is 1,730 as of November 30,” says insurance exchange director Amy Dowd.

That's a big jump from the 338 people who signed up for a plan in October, the first month the online marketplace was available to consumers.

Medical, Health Care
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is telling Idaho health insurance companies it's up to them whether they want to extend canceled policies.

Last month, millions of people around the country and in Idaho got notices cancelling their insurance policies. Insurance companies said those plans had to be dropped, because they did not comply with new standards under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Amy Dowd
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Since Idaho’s health insurance exchange launched on October 1, just 7 percent of applicants chose to enroll for subsidized coverage. Amy Dowd is at the helm of operating Idaho's marketplace, and she's pleased with enrollment in the first month.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho insurance exchange board member resigned the same day he got a contract worth up to $375,000 annually to oversee a multi-million technology project with the Internet insurance marketplace.

Frank Chan resigned from the Your Health Idaho board Wednesday.

Chan's company will get $180 hourly to oversee the exchange's technology vendors as Your Health Idaho switches from a software system provided by the federal government to a state-based system to take applications for health care coverage.

Idaho and Oregon are among the states that have seen a decrease in the number of uninsured.

Map: Rural Idaho Counties Have Largest Share Of Uninsured People

Aug 29, 2013
Map, insurance
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The number of uninsured Idahoans has dropped to its lowest level since 2007. Data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 18.9 percent of Idahoans under the age of 65 didn't have health insurance in 2011. That marks a decline in the share of uninsured Idahoans since 2010 when the rate was 20.3 percent.

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