The average Idahoan who shops for health insurance on Your Health Idaho’s marketplace will find more options this fall, but premiums will cost about 24 percent more on average than they did in 2016.
The price each person pays depends on factors such as age, geographic location, tobacco use, eligibility for tax credits and cost-sharing benefits, and desired levels of insurance coverage.
Next year’s insurance market will be more competitive. People in every corner of Idaho will choose from more plans, from at least four companies’ offerings.
“While other states have seen dramatic reductions in carriers participating on their health insurance exchanges, the good news for Idaho is that we continue to have robust choice with five carriers and 186 medical plans in Idaho with at least four companies in every county,” Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron said in a news release. “More choice leads to more competition, which should lead to lower premiums.”
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Oregon-based PacificSource Health Plans will raise premiums the least, by 15 percent. SelectHealth and Mountain Health CO-OP will raise premiums the most — both by 29 percent.
None of the five companies will end up charging what they planned when they filed their anticipated 2017 rates with the Department of Insurance. Blue Cross of Idaho and SelectHealth decided to pull back on their rate increases after the department reviewed their filings. BridgeSpan Health, Mountain Health CO-OP and PacificSource decided they needed steeper increases after the department’s review. (See table below.)
Before the department’s review, the planned increases averaged 28 percent.
The department cannot set rates for health insurance. As the state’s insurance regulator, it can deem a rate increase “reasonable” or “unreasonable.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stressed in a news release that “headline rate changes do not reflect what these consumers actually pay, because tax credits reduce the cost of coverage below the sticker price, and shopping helps consumers find the best deal.”
However, thousands of people who shop on Idaho’s exchange end up paying the sticker price, because they do not receive the income-based tax credits. They either make more than 400 percent of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible for the tax credits, or they are in Idaho’s Medicaid gap — generally, working-poor adults who qualify for no public assistance.
“Meanwhile, for people in Idaho with employer coverage, premiums have grown at some of the slowest rates on record since the Affordable Care Act was enacted,” Health and Human Services said.
RATE INCREASES FOR 2017