Idaho’s state health care exchange is in the middle of open enrollment.
Your Health Idaho is advertising, holding outreach events and encouraging people to sign up, and everyone on the 2019 rolls who qualifies for 2020 coverage has already had their coverage renewed, said Executive Director Pat Kelly. About 94,000 people were enrolled in the exchange in 2019. However, the exchange will start 2020 with an expected 18,000 people who are currently on its rolls dropping off because, as of Jan. 1, they will be covered by Medicaid expansion instead.
Idaho lawmakers voted in 2013 to create Your Health Idaho, making Idaho one of the few Republican-run states to create its own exchange rather than rely on the federal marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. Idahoans voted in 2018 to expand Medicaid coverage to everyone making up to 138 percent of the poverty level. However, an estimated 18,000 people making 100 to 138 percent of the poverty level have exchange insurance now. These people will no longer be eligible for the federal tax credits most exchange enrollees use to pay for their premiums since they will now qualify for Medicaid instead.
Idaho applied for a federal waiver earlier this year to give people making from 100 to 138 percent of the poverty level the option of staying on the exchange, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected the application as incomplete in August and said as written it would likely lead to higher federal spending. State officials have said they intend to reapply.
The medical and dental plans available for 2020, Kelly said, haven’t changed much, with 129 available, at least three different carriers offering plans everywhere in Idaho and four in most areas. New for 2020, he said, is vision coverage will be available through VSP Vision Care.
The cost of the average plan is up 6 percent from 2019, with “bronze” plans, or the cheapest ones with the highest out-of-pocket costs, going up an average of 8 percent. “Silver” plans are up 4 percent and the most expensive and expansive “gold” plans went up 8 percent on average. However, Kelly said the amount of the tax credits that about 90 percent of Your Health Idaho enrollees use to pay for their insurance is also up.
“That saves them about 80 percent on our monthly premium,” he said, adding that about a quarter of enrollees have the entire cost of their premium covered with the tax credit.
People making from 139 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level are eligible for a tax credit to help pay for their premiums, with the amount determined by income. More detailed information is available at yourhealthidaho.org; to give an example, 200 percent of the poverty level is an income of $24,980 a year for an individual, $33,820 for a couple and $51,500 for a family of four, while 300 percent is $37,470, $50,730 and $77,250, respectively.
Exchange enrollment will be open through Dec. 16. People can get more information online, including finding local brokers to help for free with the enrollment process.
“We’re really encouraging people to start sooner and not waiting until the last minute,” said Your Health Idaho spokeswoman Meghan McMartin.
For people in eastern Idaho who are interested, Your Health Idaho is teaming up with the Community Family Clinic on an enrollment event from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Family Clinic, 625 West Pacific St., Blackfoot. Blood pressure screenings, body mass index screenings, glucose testing and flu shots also will be available for free.
“We’re hoping we can attract some new people,” Kelly said.