YHI nov. 1 graphic

Here's an article from the Lewiston Tribune:

By William L. Spence 

Friday is an important day for health care coverage in Idaho.

That’s when the open enrollment period begins for 2020 health plans purchased through the Your Health Idaho state insurance exchange. It’s also when people can start enrolling in the new expanded Medicaid program.

More than 100,000 Idahoans purchased private health insurance plans through Your Health Idaho last year, for coverage in 2019. The bulk of them received federal tax credits, which lowered their monthly premiums by an average of 80 percent; a quarter of the customers paid nothing for the insurance.

The tax credits are only available on plans purchased through the state exchange, which was established in 2013 after Congress approved the Affordable Care Act.

Pat Kelly, executive director of Your Health Idaho, said a total of 119 medical and dental plans from six participating insurance carriers will be available during this year’s enrollment period.

“Every county has at least three insurance carriers to choose from, and most have four,” he said.

However, the coverage will vary from county to county. At the YourHealthIdaho.org website, people can shop and compare plans side by side, to see what’s available in their area. They can also search for provider networks and prescription drug coverage, to make sure that the plan they purchase best fits their needs.

Anyone who needs help with the enrollment process or in deciding which health plan is best for them can also get free assistance from a certified insurance agent or broker. A list of agents and brokers is available online at YourHealthIdaho.org, by clicking on the “Find Help” link at the top of the page.

The open enrollment period for Your Health Idaho begins Friday and runs through Dec. 16.

The expanded Medicaid program introduces a unique wrinkle in the process this year.

Established by statewide initiative in 2018, expanded Medicaid will provide health care coverage for people who earn between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare estimates that more than 90,000 Idahoans will qualify for the program. That includes about 18,000 people who this year purchased private insurance through Your Health Idaho.

Kelly said email and mail notices were sent to those 18,000 customers this week, letting them know about their change in status.

“If they’re Medicaid eligible, (their private health care coverage) won’t be renewed for 2020. Instead, they’ll automatically be enrolled in Medicaid,” he said. “We’ve tried to make it as seamless as we can for our customers.”

The state has requested a waiver from federal rules that would allow people in the 100 percent to 138 percent income range to keep their private insurance, if they wanted, while continuing to receive the federal tax credits. However, that waiver hasn’t been approved and, based on the initial response to the request, may never be approved.

The enrollment period for expanded Medicaid starts Friday, with coverage set to begin Jan. 1. People who aren’t automatically enrolled through Your Health Idaho can apply through the Department of Health and Welfare website, at www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.

©2019 the Lewiston Tribune

Support Local Journalism


Load comments