Idaho health insurers raised rates 27 percent this year. For 2019? 8 percent.

Medical professions topped the list of highest-paid jobs in San Luis Obispo County in 2018
Medical professions topped the list of highest-paid jobs in San Luis Obispo County in 2018 Getty Images/iStockphoto

Idaho health insurers plan to raise rates an average of 8 percent for their 2019 plans sold directly to customers, mostly through the state’s Your Health Idaho exchange.

The rates apply to plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act. They’re just proposals, though. The Idaho Department of Insurance will review them, and final rate changes will be released later this year.

The changes would range from an average 1 percent rate decrease for SelectHealth plans, to an average 24 percent increase for PacificSource plans.

Companies proposing significant rate hikes are citing increased medical and drug prices among their reasons.

But the overall increase is far lower than what Idaho regulators granted companies for this year. Health insurers raised 2018 rates by an average 27 percent, due largely to a spike in silver plan premiums driven by political factors in Washington, D.C.

What does it mean for you?

Here’s a sampling of how rates could change in 2019 for a 40-year-old in Southwest Idaho — for the cheapest and most expensive plans:

What about those non-Obamacare plans?

The Idaho Department of Insurance has proposed letting insurers sell “state-based” plans that wouldn’t have to comply with the ACA.

The department issued guidance earlier this year under an executive order from Gov. Butch Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little. Proponents of the plan say their goal is to give middle-class uninsured Idahoans some kind of coverage option. Those Idahoans — such as self-employed professionals — currently make too much money to qualify for subsidies, but have decided they can’t afford to pay the full price for existing plans, which can exceed the cost of housing.

Blue Cross of Idaho advocated for such a proposal and was the first company to offer a preview of what its plans would look like. But those plans don’t have a launch date. The department is still in talks with federal regulators, who warned that the state’s original proposal was illegal.

Audrey Dutton is an investigative reporter for the Statesman. Contact her at 208-377-6448, or on Twitter at @audreydutton.