In Idaho, the issue of a health insurance exchange has been a controversial one since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. State lawmakers have been divided on the issue primarily due to their uncertainty about whether or not the state’s insurance companies could participate in the exchange program. Legislators had been concerned that if they chose not to build an exchange and allow the federal government to do it for them that the exchange would only be populated by large insurance corporations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.
This week, Governor Butch Otter announced at the Idaho Chamber Alliance that the Department of Health and Human Services has assured him that the state’s insurance companies, both large and small, will be able to participate in the exchange program. This is true whether the program is run by the state or by the federal government. If the federal government does run the exchange, however, there is no guarantee that Idaho insurers will see much success as they will be forced to compete with massive corporations.
The news has granted opponents of an exchange program some momentum, but lawmakers are beginning to consider the benefits of a state-run program. If Idaho were to build its own exchange, state insurers would have more success in the changing insurance market. Legislators are still determining if this will be the appropriate course of action for Idaho and are expected to reach a decision at some point later this year.
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