Special periods of open enrollment in Idaho and other state and federal health insurance markets did more than expand access to health care for people with lower and moderate incomes.
In March, 3,600 more Idahoans signed up for exchange plans. In April, 4,900 Idahoans signed up for new plans, said Mikayla Williams, a spokeswoman for Your Health Idaho.
But the open season that ended last month also paved the way for people with policies to save money and get higher levels of coverage, according to two people in eastern Idaho who are collaborating with enrollment. of insurance.
“The big impact was that people could save money, have better benefits on their health plans and better coverage,” Mariana Pablo, an enrollment counselor who doesn’t sell plans but helps people, said in a phone interview. people to browse the insurance.
Typically, people who have health insurance plans through government markets can only upgrade or enroll in new plans for a few weeks at the end of the year, said Pat Kelly, Idaho’s exchange director. , Your Health Idaho. But after the federal government opened its market, states, including Idaho, followed suit with their own markets.
A broad federal relief package targeted markets to increase insurance in two more ways: by offering larger tax credit discounts for those already eligible and by making people with higher incomes eligible. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the legislation offers higher insurance discounts during 2021 and 2022.
“COVID’s relief legislation provides more financial assistance to more people than ever before to help them pay for health insurance,” said Hillarie Hagen, health policy analyst at Idaho Voices for Children.
Pablo and Elliot Kirk, a Rigby insurance agent said plan updates were especially common.
“He had a client who was paying somewhere in the $ 400 range. The tax credit (increase) came in and lowered him to $ 76,” Kirk said in a phone interview last month. For about $ 70 more, they switched to a gold plan, the highest of three levels, for a total of $ 140, he said.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in early May that the federal relief had caused nearly 940,000 Americans to enroll in the plans through the federal market. The federal market will remain open until August 15. Idahoans can only enroll in plans on the state stock market.
Idaho regulators say keeping the Idaho insurance market open longer, as some other states and the federal government are doing, could risk an increase in monthly premiums.
Dean Cameron, director of the Idaho Department of Insurance, which oversees private insurance markets, said the extended open season makes it easier for people to only enroll in insurance when they need medical care or are diagnosed a new condition. If people don’t pay premiums continuously, it leaves insurers paying big bills without a consistent payment, Cameron said.
It’s “similar to having your car parked on the railroad tracks and now you want car insurance and your house is on fire and you want homeowners insurance,” Cameron said. “This is a feature of health insurance that we need to protect.”
Cameron said March’s special open enrollment period was a test to see how enrollment would be affected. He noted that the state had just come out of the regular enrollment period open in November and December, which lasted two weeks longer than expected. Idaho extended the open season later until April 30th.
Kelley described the state’s measure of opening markets for two months as a “measured approach to balancing all factors” and allowing people to take advantage of higher subsidies.
It is not your only insurance opportunity
If you have had a life-changing event in the past 60 days, such as losing a job, divorcing, or having a child, you may be able to sign up for insurance on the stock exchange through which regulators insurances call it “Qualified Life Event”. Your Health Idaho lists the following as examples:
– Birth and adoption
– Loss of coverage
– Marriages and divorces
– Special circumstances, such as obtaining citizenship, legal presence or refugee status; the release from prison or prison; the main informant in your home entering prison; and other classification tests.
– “Under the Agreementable Care Act (ACA), members of federally recognized tribes can sign up or change plans once a month through Your Health Idaho,” the state exchange website said.
For help signing up for Your Health Idaho plans, you can call 855-944-3246. You can also find insurance agents or enrollment specialists near you by visiting yourhealthidaho.org/find-help. You can select agents who speak Spanish or other languages.
If you do not have a qualified vital event, you will need to wait for regular open enrollment to access your Health Idaho insurance plans. The market usually opens in November and December.
Enrollment in Medicaid insurance for low-income people is open year-round. Eligibility is determined by income, household size, and disability. An adult with a capacity for a household with four family members with a monthly income of $ 3,048 may be eligible. For more information on eligibility, visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare website at bit.ly/IdahoMedicaidEligibility. Apply for Medicaid online at bit.ly/IdahoMedicaidApply.
Contact Kyle Pfannenstiel can be contacted at 208-542-6754. Follow him on Twitter: @pfannyyy. He is a member of the body in Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.