New federal data show the Affordable Care Act has reduced the share of Idahoans without health insurance by more than one-third since the law took effect in 2010.
The share of Idahoans without health insurance dropped from 17.7 percent in 2010 to 11 percent in 2015, a 38 percent decline, according to the data compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If Idaho had chosen to accept the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults, that rate would have fallen more, because an estimated 59,000 uninsured people would have been insured by 2015, the agency said. And it would have prevented an estimated 70 deaths per year, the agency said.
Neighboring states that expanded Medicaid saw a 46 percent to 59 percent decline in uninsured residents.
Meanwhile, 566,000 Idaho children and adults who previously had lifetime limits on their coverage no longer have that restriction, the agency said.
The agency did not release data showing how much insurance premiums have increased in the past six years — a frequent criticism of the law — for all insurance plans, or for plans that were designed to be sold on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges.
Premiums have risen significantly for the more than 94,000 Idahoans insured through the Your Health Idaho exchange. However, with tax credits under the ACA, about 83,000 of those people do not pay the full premiums.
Instead, the agency reported on family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance plans, which cover about 836,000 people in Idaho. Those premiums rose an average of 8 percent a year between 2010 and 2015, it said. That is about 47 percent over a five-year period.
Editor’s note: The statistic for family premiums for employer health plans was corrected.