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Officials: Health exchange will have 161 plans

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 12:04 am

BOISE — Idahoans will be able to choose from 161 health insurance plans offered by eight Idaho insurance companies through Your Health Idaho, the state’s health insurance marketplace that goes live Oct. 1, officials announced Wednesday. 

On the national front, The Associated Press reported the findings of the biggest study yet on the anticipated premiums for insurance buyers when state and federal marketplaces go into effect.

The sticker price for a 21-year-old buying a mid-range policy will average about $270 a month, according to AP. That’s before government tax credits that act like a discount for most people, bringing down the cost based on their income.

List-price premiums for a 40-year-old buying a mid-range plan will average close to $330, the study by Avalere Health found. For a 60-year-old, they were nearly double that at $615 a month.

The bottom line is mixed: Many consumers will like their new options, particularly if they qualify for a tax credit. But others may have to stretch to afford coverage.

The Obama administration didn’t challenge the study, but Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said consumers will have options that are cheaper than the averages presented. “We’re consistently seeing that premiums will be lower than expected,” she added. “For the many people that qualify for a tax credit, the cost will be even lower.”

With insurance marketplaces just weeks away from opening, the Avalere study crunched the numbers on premiums filed by insurers in 11 states and Washington, DC. Idaho was not one of the states included in the study.

Open enrollment for coverage on Idaho’s new exchange, Your Health Idaho, will begin in January 2014. Residents can choose from 76 individual health plans, 55 small group plans for small business, 13 individual dental plans and 17 small group dental plans, officials with the exchange announced Wednesday.

Beginning later this fall and through March 2014, Idahoans can use Your Health Idaho to select the plans, which will be grouped into categories to make comparison shopping easier. The four categories or “metal levels,” depend on the percentage of health care expenses each plan covers. Bronze plans cover 60 percent; silver 70 percent; gold 80 percent and platinum 90 percent, according to Your Health Idaho.

All plans available through Your Health Idaho have been reviewed by the Idaho Department of Insurance to ensure they offer a standardized package of coverage and services known as essential health benefits. That includes hospitalization, emergency services, prescription drugs and maternity care among to other things.

The health insurance marketplace is accessible online at yourhealthidaho.org.

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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