The following report comes from Jody Olson, director of communications for Your Health Idaho:
Idaho’s first open enrollment period is officially in the books.
For the past six months, Your Health Idaho has been helping people across the state find the right health insurance to meet their needs and the needs of their families.
Idaho was third in the nation per capita for the number of residents who selected health insurance plans offered on the exchange, trailing only Vermont and Florida. In all, more than 76,000 Idahoans selected health insurance plans through the exchange, a huge success for this first year.
Data shows that 27 percent of the people who selected health insurance plans through Your Health Idaho fell into the crucial age group of typically healthy 18- to 34-year-olds, the population dubbed the “young invincibles” who made up the largest group buying on the exchange. Fifty-five to 64-year-olds made up the second-largest group purchasing plans through the exchange, at 23 percent.
Idaho’s state-based exchange has been working to meet the needs of families across the state, and during open enrollment, I traveled widely to help people sign up for health insurance. I met people who had never had insurance in their adult lives and others who were shopping for more affordable coverage on the exchange.
Some of the people I met had been denied insurance coverage in the past because of preexisting health conditions; they were so relieved to find out they could no longer be turned away.
Over the past six months, I have been able to see the lives we have changed. Already, we are hearing from people who are using their insurance and getting the medical attention they need. We have heard from many of the “young invincible” who are happy to have affordable plans, even though they don’t expect to use them any time soon.
Although the deadline to sign up for health insurance through Your Health Idaho has passed for this year, some Idahoans still may be able to sign up for health insurance coverage. Idahoans who experience significant changes in their lives, known in the insurance world as a qualifying life event, may be eligible for a special enrollment period. Qualifying life events can include getting married, having a baby, moving to another state, experiencing changes in employment, or gaining citizenship.
To see if you’ve experienced a qualifying life event, call 1-855-YH-Idaho to see if you can sign up for insurance before the next open enrollment period starts Nov. 15.
Even though the next open enrollment period doesn’t start for another six months, Your Health Idaho is still here to help. If you have questions about Idaho’s health insurance exchange, visit YourHealthIdaho.org or call 1-855-YH-Idaho.
David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.