Obamacare

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

Your Health Idaho's executive director says nearly 74,000 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan on the state-based exchange.

Pat Kelly told exchange board members Tuesday that the number fell somewhere mid-range of the exchange's projections.

However, Kelly did not say how many of those enrolled for the first time. He also didn't mention how many people had submitted an application but had not yet selected a health plan.

Last year, roughly 76,000 people signed up on Idaho's exchange.

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

Idaho is on track to become the only Republican-dominated state to launch its own health insurance exchange when enrollment opens Nov. 15.

But the state exchange is facing pressure to function just as well as the federal exchange when it first opened for enrollment last year.

While the federal exchange's website experienced serious glitches when it first launched, it quickly outperformed other state exchanges in the following weeks. States like Oregon chose to rely on the federal government's site because it was too costly and time-consuming to fix their own.

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.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter says no matter what, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it's known, was coming to Idaho.  

“Because if we hadn’t [have] established our own state exchange, we would have had Obamacare in Idaho,” he says. “We didn’t have a choice. We were going to have an exchange in Idaho. We were going to have the Obamacare exchange in Idaho or we were gonna have [an]  Idaho exchange in Idaho.”

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Russ Fulcher says incumbent Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter no longer represents the heart of Idaho's Republican Party.  

Fulcher, a state senator from Meridian, has been on the campaign trail since late November spreading that message. He’s the tea party candidate trying to unseat a longtime cowboy politician he says has a political “machine” behind him.

medical image
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.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says nearly 44,000 Idahoans have selected a health insurance plan on Your Health Idaho.

The agency says Idaho remains second in the nation per capita for the number of people selecting plans on the exchange.

The latest numbers show a 33 percent increase from one month ago.

The enrollment period ends on March 31.

The latest figures on who's signing up under the federal health care law tell a surprising story about one of the most conservative states in the country.

Idaho health insurance exchange officials say 19,922 people have bought insurance plans from the newly-created online marketplace. Nearly a third of those who purchased policies are between 55-and 64-years old. YourHealthIdaho.org is the portal Idaho set up to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

Bill Deal
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Idaho Department of Insurance director Bill Deal said he's likely to announce Monday whether his state will adopt President Barack Obama's proposal to extend old health insurance policies that otherwise would be canceled.

Through a spokeswoman on Friday, Deal said he's in discussions with Idaho insurers offering policies to individuals on how such a move would impact the state's health coverage marketplace.

President Obama on Thursday said he'd allow insurance companies to keep selling their old plans to people whose policies were going to be canceled.

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

Because the federal heath insurance exchange website has been plagued by troubles including outages, the head of Idaho's marketplace says the state is stepping up to make it easier for people to sign up for health insurance.

Amy Dowd leads Your Health Idaho, the state’s health insurance exchange. Until next year, Idaho is using the federal portal to sign up consumers online.

A lawyer hired to review how Idaho insurance exchange leaders awarded a no-bid, $375,000 contract to a board member says he'll be finished within a week.

Fred Mack, a corporate governance specialist at a Boise law firm, said Wednesday the bill for his investigation of the contract between Your Health Idaho director Amy Dowd and former board member Frank Chan won't exceed $15,000.

Last week, Chan canceled his contract to manage a big exchange technology project.

Butch Otter, state of the state
Aaron Kunz / Boise State Public Radio

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter wants the requirement for everybody to have insurance by 2014 delayed 12 months amid glitches in Internet health care exchanges across the nation, including Idaho.

Idaho is currently relying on federal software to enroll people in coverage via its Your Health Idaho insurance exchange.

medical image
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Seven days after Idaho's online health insurance exchange launched, the organization's director says there are still problems with the website, but it's working slowly.

Your Health Idaho Director Amy Dowd told state lawmakers. Idaho is building its own website, but for now, the state is using the federal portal.

Idaho's $70 million insurance exchange starts Tuesday for as many as 200,000 people in the state to enroll via the Internet for federally subsidized insurance, a key component to President Barack Obama's health overhaul.

Just don't expect to see an immediate marketing blitz: Television, newspaper and other ads due to cost $3.5 million initially won't be ready until mid-October.

medical image
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idahoans will be able to shop for and purchase insurance on the state's new health insurance exchange beginning Oct. 1. Under the federal health law, most Americans will be required to have health insurance coverage by Jan. 1, 2014, or they'll face a tax penalty.

Alex E. Proimos / Flickr Creative Commons

The Spokesman-Review reported Sunday that the Legislature’s decision to build an entirely state-based exchange in March came too late. Jody Olson with the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange says for the first year, Idaho will use some federal resources to maintain the state’s health exchange website.

How Obamacare Creates An Insurance Industry Ad Blitz

Nov 30, 2012
Blue Cross of Idaho Ad
Sawyer Miller for Blue Cross of Idaho

One of Blue Cross of Idaho’s new television commercials opens with a chirpy jingle.  “You’re protected in the sun, you’re protected when it rains,” the song begins.  The pitch is clear: this is the insurer for you, no matter your lifestyle.