Idaho

Your Health Idaho, which had been scheduled to end their COVID-19 Enrollment Period on March 31st, has understandably extended the deadline out by another month in light of the American Rescue Plan's expanded/enhanced subsidies. Via email:

Enhanced Subsidies Go into Effect at Your Health Idaho April 1

Your Health Idaho Continues to Enroll Idahoans through April 30, 2021

BOISE, Idaho –Your Health Idaho, the state insurance exchange, will remain open throughout the month of April so Idahoans can take advantage of enhanced financial assistance, which lowers consumer’s monthly premiums. 

For the first time ever, tax credits, which act like an instant discount, may be available for those who were not previously eligible and will be increased for Idahoans who already receive them. For some Idahoans, these savings can be significant. For example, a Treasure Valley married couple in their 20s making $50,000 a year could pay less than $10 a month and a family of four making $105,000 could pay as little as $200 a month.

A reminder from Your Health Idaho (via email):

Uninsured Special Enrollment Period in Idaho Begins March 1

  • Idahoans who enroll will have coverage beginning April 1, 2021 

BOISE, Idaho – Your Health Idaho, the state insurance exchange, reopens today for Idahoans still seeking 2021 health insurance. Between March 1, and March 31, 2021, uninsured Idahoans can enroll in comprehensive health insurance coverage through the Uninsured Special Enrollment Period.  

This Special Enrollment Period is available for any uninsured Idahoan who missed the open enrollment window and is still seeking health insurance for 2021. Idahoans who enroll by the March 31, deadline will have coverage beginning April 1, 2021. 

(sigh) After seven years of doing this, you'd think I'd know better: I double-checked the Your Health Idaho website as recently as this morning and saw no announcement of a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period...and yet look what just showed up in my inbox an hour ago...

Your Health Idaho Announces Special Enrollment Period for Uninsured Idahoans

  • Idaho’s Health Insurance Marketplace will Reopen March 1 

BOISE, Idaho – Your Health Idaho announced today that a Special Enrollment Period will be established from March 1 to March 31. During this time, any eligible uninsured Idahoan can sign up for health insurance coverage.

“As we approach the one-year mark of COVID-19 in Idaho, too many Idahoans are still uninsured and in need of coverage,” said Your Health Idaho Executive Director, Pat Kelly. “Reopening the marketplace and providing Idahoans with a path to comprehensive health insurance is simply the right thing to do.” 

With this announcement, Your Health Idaho joins all state-based marketplaces and the federal marketplace in offering a Special Enrollment Period as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt across the country.

via Your Health Idaho:

More than 79,000 Idahoans Enroll in 2021 Health Insurance Coverage

BOISE, Idaho – More than 79,000 Idahoans signed up for 2021 health insurance coverage through the state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, during the annual open enrollment period.

Compared to the same time last year, enrollments on the exchange are down by approximately 10,000. This decline is attributed in large part to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health emergencies and protected coverage policies.  

Last year's official Idaho Open Enrollment Period (OEP) Qualified Health Plan (QHP) total was 78,431, so 79,000 should be slightly higher, not 10,000 lower. What's going on here?

via Your Health Idaho:

Final Deadline for Health Insurance in Idaho is December 31

  • Your Health Idaho anticipates increased activity following deadline extension

BOISE, Idaho – Idahoans looking to find 2021 health insurance coverage still have a few days left to enroll through the state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho.

After extending the original deadline from Dec. 15, exchange officials are urging Idahoans to apply for the monthly health insurance tax credit and make their final plan selection by 11:59 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, Dec. 31. 

“I cannot stress enough how important this final deadline is for Idahoans,” said Pat Kelly, Your Health Idaho Executive Director. “Even if you are unsure if you will qualify, this is the last chance to complete an application and find out if you are eligible for lower-cost coverage through Your Health Idaho.”

Annnnnnd add Your Health Idaho to the list:

Deadline to Get Health Insurance Extended
Idahoans have until December 31 to get covered for 2021

Today, for the first time ever, the Your Health Idaho Board of Directors voted to extend the Open Enrolment deadline. Idahoans now have until Dec. 31, 2020, to sign up for health insurance coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2021.

Your Health Idaho saw the largest single-day enrollment since 2018 on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the original deadline date. This increased activity coupled with ongoing impacts from the coronavirus pandemic spurred Your Health Idaho to extend the deadline.

“An unprecedented year calls for unprecedented measures,” said Your Health Idaho Chairman of the Board, Stephen Weeg. “Given the challenges faced by Idahoans in 2020 and the renewed need for comprehensive health insurance, we hope that by extending the deadline a few more weeks, every Idahoan will have access to the coverage they need for the coming year.”

via Your Health Idaho:

Less Than One Week to Enroll in 2021 Health Insurance

  • Your Health Idaho extends customer support hours ahead of Dec. 15 deadline

BOISE, Idaho – Idahoans have until 11:59 p.m. (MT) on Tuesday, Dec. 15, to enroll in 2021 health insurance coverage through Your Health Idaho, the state insurance exchange. After open enrollment ends, Idahoans will not be able to enroll in coverage unless they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

“As expected after the Thanksgiving holiday, we have seen an increased interest from Idahoans looking to enroll in 2021 health insurance coverage,” said Your Health Idaho Executive Director, Pat Kelly. “To ensure consumers are getting the help they need, Your Health Idaho has expanded business hours through December and implemented new contact options.”

via Your Health Idaho:

It is no secret that 2020 has been a challenging year for Idahoans. In addition to the health implications and long-term consequences of COVID-19, living in a global pandemic has changed the way Idahoans work, learn, and interact with friends and family.

Over the past year, COVID-19 has also highlighted the undeniable need for comprehensive health insurance and access to quality healthcare. However, in a year with so much uncertainty and change, it may seem like health insurance is unaffordable or something that we can go without. At Your Health Idaho we understand that budgets are tight, we also know that the peace of mind that comes with having coverage in the event of an emergency is priceless.

As 2020 draws to a close, so does the annual Open Enrollment period for health insurance. Right now, at YourHealthIdaho.org you can shop and compare hundreds of health insurance plans to find the right coverage for you and your family.

New Insurance Carrier Joins Idaho Exchange, Record Number of Plans Available in 2021

  • Preview plans and prices beginning Oct. 1 at YourHealthIdaho.org

BOISE, Idaho – Your Health Idaho, the state health insurance exchange, announced today that Idahoans will have a record number of medical and dental plans and a new insurance carrier to choose from in 2021.

Regence, which currently sells small group and individual plans off-exchange in Idaho, will offer medical coverage through Your Health Idaho for the first time in 2021. The addition of Regence brings the total number of insurance carriers on the Idaho exchange to seven.

“We are pleased to welcome Regence to Your Health Idaho,” said Pat Kelly, Your Health Idaho Executive Director. “Adding another regional insurance carrier means even more choice for Idahoans and continued local control for the Idaho marketplace.” 

Beginning Oct. 1, Idahoans can preview the 136 medical and 13 dental plans that will be available in 2021 online at www.YourHealthIdaho.org. 

The Idaho Insurance Dept. has posted the preliminary rate filings for the 2021 Individual and Small Group markets:

The Department of Insurance receives preliminary health plan information for the following year from insurance carriers by June 1 and reviews the proposed plan documents and rates for compliance with Idaho and federal regulations. The Department of Insurance does not have the authority to set or establish insurance rates, but it does have the authority to deem rate increases submitted by insurance companies as reasonable or unreasonable. After the review and negotiation process, the carriers submit their final rate increase information. The public is invited to provide comments on the rate changes. Please send any comments to Idaho Department of Insurance.

On April 14th, I noted that Idaho, which had previously refused to join the twelve other state-based ACA exchanges in launching an "open" COVID-19 specific Special Enrollment Period (i.e., open to any uninsured resident regardless of reason) announced that going forward, they were modifying their regular SEP rules somewhat:

If You Need Health Insurance, Your Health Idaho is Here to Help

...In partnership with the Idaho Department of Insurance and Idaho insurance providers, and in alignment with Governor Little’s initiative to reduce regulations, Your Health Idaho is working to relax the requirements for eligible Idahoans to enroll in coverage.

Back on March 23rd, I noted that while every other state-based ACA exchange has launched an official COVID-19-specific Special Enrollment Period, there are two ACA exchanges which have refused to do so. One of them is the mothership, HealthCare.Gov, which is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) and which hosts a whopping 38 states. The other one is Your Health Idaho:

I contacted the exchange last week to see what the deal was re. a COVID-19 SEP and they kicked the ball over to the state Insurance Dept:

COVID-19 (coronavirus) is not currently considered grounds for a Special Enrollment Period in Idaho. Questions around the potential offering of an SEP would be best answered by the Idaho Department of Insurance. This really falls within their regulatory authority. YHI will follow their guidance and support whatever decision is made.

I did indeed contact the Idaho DOI, but I didn't hear back from them until today. Here's what they had to say:

For a couple of weeks now, I've been posting constant updates as one state-based ACA exchange after another has announced a COVID-19-specific Special Enrollment Period in light of the ongoing pandemic crisis. Until now, though, there's been two ACA exchanges which haven't made such an announcement. One is the Big One, HealthCare.Gov, which hosts a whopping 38 states and which is facing increasing pressure to do so.

The other...is Idaho. Specifically, Your Health Idaho, the state's ACA exchange.

via KIVI Boise:

The number of Idaho residents who have signed up for Medicaid under the state’s voter-approved expanded coverage has passed 60,000.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare posted updated numbers Thursday. The agency estimates 91,000 residents meet requirements.

Coverage started January 1, but enrollment is year-round. Those who sign up for Medicaid will be covered for doctor visits that occurred earlier in the same month.

Voters authorized Medicaid expansion in 2018 with an initiative that passed with 61% of the vote after years of inaction by state lawmakers. In 2019, lawmakers added restrictions requiring five waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Waivers are required when states want to deviate from Medicaid rules. Federal officials have yet to approve any of Idaho’s requested waivers.

If the anticipated 91,000 people do eventually sign up, it would cost Idaho about $400 million, with the federal government paying 90%.

This Just In via email...

Your Health Idaho enrolls 89,000 Idahoans for 2020 health insurance coverage

  • Idaho exchange sees increase in new customers as overall enrollments decline amid Medicaid expansion

BOISE, Idaho – More than 89,000 Idahoans signed up for 2020 health insurance coverage through the state insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, during open enrollment which ended Dec. 16, 2019.

Enrollments are down approximately 14,000 from the same time last year. This decline is largely due to Medicaid expansion and was expected by the exchange. Your Health Idaho originally estimated that around 18,000 individuals would move from the exchange to Medicaid under the newly expanded program. 

Your Health Idaho, the states' ACA exchange, reminds residents who completed their enrollment applications that they still have until midnight tonight to actually select a policy:

Last chance to #GetCovered!
For those Idahoans who submitted an application for 2020 health insurance coverage by December 16, you have one more day to pick a plan! Do not wait! Find your perfect plan today at YourHealthIdaho.org!

— Your Health Idaho (@YourHealthIdaho) December 23, 2019

In most states, the 2020 Open Enrollment Period deadline is midnight on Sunday, December 15th. In a few states, the deadline is as late as January 31st.

And then there's Idaho. Via Your Health Idaho, the state's ACA exchange:

Deadline to apply for 2020 health insurance is December 16
Your Health Idaho extends hours to support increased interest

BOISE, Idaho – Idahoans seeking 2020 health insurance coverage must complete their application through the state insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, by Monday, Dec. 16. In anticipation of increased interest and high demand, Your Health Idaho is extending customer support hours through December.

Your Health Idaho will be open Monday through Friday, December 9-20, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT. Phone lines will also be open Saturday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT.

Your Health Idaho doesn't post presse release very often, but when they do it's usually helpful info:

Open Enrollment for Idaho is coming to a close, don’t miss out on enrolling in an affordable health insurance plan! You can set up an account, shop for plans, and apply for coverage online. Visit Apply and Enroll for more information. No computer? No problem. To apply over the phone or to request a paper application, call Your Health Idaho at 1-855-944-3246.

We’re Here to Help!

Your Health Idaho will have extended hours throughout December*:

  • December 1 – 6: 7am – 7pm
  • December 9 – 13: 7am – 8pm
  • December 14 (Saturday): 10am – 4pm
  • December 16 – 20: 7am – 8pm
  • December 21 (Saturday): 10am – 4pm

This is the perfect opportunity for those Idahoans who were unable to reach us during the busy work week.
*All times are in Mountain Time Zone.

What is an Open Enrollment Period?

UPDATE: Well what do you know? Less than a day after Kliff wrote her story on the BYU-Idaho situation, they've already reversed their stance! Bravo for her!

BYU-Idaho, the school @sarahkliff reported would not allow its students to enroll in Medicaid, sent this email to students reversing its decision, per my DMs pic.twitter.com/jEuIu9K1KT

— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) November 26, 2019

Original story below...

I heard about this story a couple of weeks ago but didn't get around to writing about it until today. Via Twitter:

Students of the BYUs: might want to start making some noise: the Church Board of Ed just decided that they won’t accept Medicaid as a provider for their student health insurance requirement. The week IDaho expanded Medicaid too. Catch 22? DMBA doesn’t count for ACA requirement.

via the Idaho Statesman:

About 35,000 Idaho residents have signed up for Medicaid under expanded coverage in the first few days it has been offered, state officials said Monday.

The Department of Health and Welfare said that's more than a third of the estimated 91,000 people who are eligible. The agency started taking applications Friday, and it is tracking numbers on its website.

That's the good news. Of course, Republican legislators couldn't leave well enough alone:

Voters authorized Medicaid expansion last year with an initiative that passed with 61% of the vote after years of inaction by state lawmakers. But lawmakers earlier this year added restrictions requiring five waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

...Most recently, Idaho last month submitted a waiver requiring patients to get referrals from primary physicians before they can get family planning services such as birth control, abortions or pregnancy care.

via Your Health Idaho:

  • Open Enrollment for health insurance in Idaho begins November 1
  • New for 2020, Medicaid expansion could affect eligibility

BOISE, Idaho – Open Enrollment for 2020 health insurance coverage begins Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 16. During this time, Idahoans can shop, compare, and enroll in a plan through the state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho.

A total of 116 medical and 13 dental plans from six participating insurance carriers are available at Your Health Idaho for 2020. Your Heath Idaho Executive Director, Pat Kelly, urges those seeking coverage to use the comparison tool and consider their options, as plans can vary by county.

“In 2020, every county in the state has at least three insurance carriers to choose from, and most have four. At YourHealthIdaho.org, not only can Idahoans shop and compare plans side-by side, but they can also search for provider networks and prescription drug coverage to make sure the plan they purchase really works for them,” Kelly said.

I'm not sure how this slipped by me, but in addition to Covered California already having launched their 2020 Open Enrollment Period yesterday, five other state-based ACA exchanges are already partly open as well. That is, you can shop around, compare prices on next year's health insurance policies and check and see what sort of financial assistance you may be eligible for:

I'm not sure when the other 7 state-based exchanges will launch their 2020 window shopping tools, nor do I know when HealthCare.Gov's window shopping will be open for the other 38 states, although I believe they usually do so about a week ahead of the official November 1st Open Enrollment Period launch date.

Not much to see here...in August, the Idaho Insurance Dept. posted their preliminary 2020 average rate changes for the individual & small group markets; they averaged 7.0% and 4.0% increases respectively. Today they've posted the final/approved rates, and the indy numbers have been whittled down ever so slightly:

(SIGH) OK, apparently the Kaiser Family Foundation has been working on the same project as I have for the past couple of weeks, so this is no longer "exclusive"...ah, well...

MLR rebate payments for 2018 are being sent out to enrollees even as I type this. The data for 2018 MLR rebates won't be officially posted for another month or so, but I've managed to acquire it early, and after a lot of number-crunching the data, I've recompiled it into an easy-to-read format.

But that's not all! In addition to the actual 2018 MLR rebates, I've gone one step further and have taken an early crack at trying to figure out what 2019 MLR rebates might end up looking like next year (for the Individual Market only). In order to do this, I had to make several very large assumptions:

This just in from the Idaho Insurance Dept:

Individual Medical Plans

The Department of Insurance received preliminary 2020 health plan information from insurance carriers on June 1 and began reviewing the proposed plan documents and rates for compliance with Idaho and federal regulations. The Department of Insurance does not have the authority to set or establish insurance rates, but it does have the authority to deem rate increases submitted by insurance companies as reasonable or unreasonable. After the review and negotiation process, the carriers submit their final rate 2020 increase information. The public is invited to provide comments on the rate changes. Please send any comments to Idaho Department of Insurance.

Your Health Idaho, the only red state standalone ACA exchange in operation since Kentucky's kynect exchange was shuttered a few years back, doesn't post updates very often, but when they do there's usually a few noteworthy items. Back in March they held a semi-annual board meeting which included a few items:

8. OPEN ENROLLMENT 2019 UPDATE

Mr. Kelly said YHI’s effectuations as of the end of January are just over 101,000 and prelim February results at 98,700. There were significant enrollment shifts between the carriers specifically with SelectHealth gaining membership due to a low-price position. Modest growth continues for the dental carriers overall with significant growth for Delta Dental. Strong seasonality is seen in effectuation trends in January and February. And as expected, the average premium is just under $500 which was anticipated with the rate increase of about 5 percent.

A week or so ago there was an important ruling by a federal judge which shot down Medicaid expansion work requirements in two states (Arkansas and Kentucky) while also having a ripple effect in two more (Idaho and Iowa):

The [Idaho] Senate Health and Welfare Committee voted 7-2 to hold in committee a House bill that would create a work requirement for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries — after lawmakers found out during the hearing that a federal judge had just struck down Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas.

Meanwhile, a Senate bill that would create a voluntary job training requirement for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries is still in that chamber’s amending order and could come up soon. The Medicaid budget for 2019-2020 is still being held in the full House. And Gov. Brad Little has said he won’t let lawmakers adjourn for the year until Medicaid expansion and funding is resolved.

So much crazy healthcare policy/legal news is happening this week I'm having trouble keeping up.

This happened yesterday:

BREAKING: federal judge strikes down Kentucky's Medicaid work requirements. Again. Remands them back to HHS

— Nathaniel Weixel (@NateWeixel) March 27, 2019

Same judge also strikes down work requirements in Arkansas

— Nathaniel Weixel (@NateWeixel) March 27, 2019

And since I was too swamped with other stuff, I didn't have a chance to write about it until now. A bunch of other outlets have already posted the details, so here's Dylan Scott of Vox.com to save me the trouble:

A federal district judge has blocked Medicaid work requirements approved by the Trump administration in Arkansas and Kentucky.

Ugh:

CMS gives thumbs-up to Medicaid work requirements in Ohio

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has approved a waiver request for work requirements in Ohio’s Medicaid program.

...CMS rolled out guidance on these waivers in January 2018, and since then eight states, including Ohio, have had requests approved. Several additional states have submitted waivers that the agency has yet to weigh in on.

...Arkansas is the only state where such work requirements have formally been launched, and in the last several months of 2018, more than 18,000 people lost Medicaid coverage as a result of the work requirement. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that most of these losses were a result of the administrative requirements associated with reporting work hours.

Double Ugh:

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