Blue Cross leads way in Idaho health insurance exchange

Five insurers, including one based in the state, expect to offer health plans this fall.

adutton@idahostatesman.comAugust 1, 2013 

The companies that plan to offer medical insurance to individuals are Altius, Blue Cross of Idaho, BridgeSpan, PacificSource and SelectHealth, according to the state health insurance exchange board.

Blue Cross, PacificSource and SelectHealth also will offer plans to small businesses.

Idaho’s health exchange is scheduled to launch Oct. 1. It is a marketplace where uninsured people can shop for the coverage that most Americans will be required to have beginning Jan. 1 under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Together, the five companies will have 134 plans available for medical coverage. Blue Cross of Idaho will top the offerings with 42 plans, followed by PacificSource with 39 and SelectHealth with 34.

BridgeSpan, a new company created by Regence BlueShield of Idaho’s parent company to sell on state insurance exchanges, will offer four plans. Regence is not expected to offer any plans of its own.

Rates have not been announced. Idaho’s exchange will offer up to five levels of coverage for individuals and up to four for businesses. Cheaper plans will have higher deductibles, lower percentages of covered costs and fewer features. Individuals also can buy a limited catastrophic-coverage plan.

The exchange also will offer dental benefits. Blue Cross and PacificSource will have dental plans, as will Delta Dental of Idaho, California-based BEST Life and Health Insurance Co. and New York-based The Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America.

Here are details about the companies:

• Altius Health Plans, based in Utah, has sold health insurance in Idaho. According to rate reviews that are now required as part of the Affordable Care Act, the company spent about 86.3 percent of its small-employer premiums on medical benefits.

• Blue Cross of Idaho is based in Meridian and has the largest share of the state’s health insurance market. It spent 82.3 percent of individual premiums and 84.6 percent of small-employer premiums on medical benefits.

• BridgeSpan Health Co., created by Regence’s parent, Cambia Health Solutions, will offer individual plans in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah. BridgeSpan has not been subject to rate reviews in Idaho, but Regence spent 91.6 percent of its individual premiums on medical benefits.

• PacificSource, based in Oregon, has an office in Boise and has gained market share in Idaho over the past several years. It spent 94.6 percent of individual premiums and 97.6 percent of small-employer premiums on medical benefits, as of its latest rate review.

• Select Health, based in Utah, recently began selling plans in Idaho through a partnership with St. Luke’s Health System. The company now insures St. Luke’s employees and family members, among others. It has not been subject to rate reviews in Idaho, but its latest review in Utah showed it spending 83.2 percent of individual premiums and 82.4 percent of small-employer premiums on benefits.

The list of insurers and plans will not be final until September, when agreements will be signed between the companies and the exchange.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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