Idaho’s health insurance exchange plans up for debate

Idaho health insurance
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Idaho Health InsuranceHealth insurance exchange plans to be debated this week

Idaho is one among several states in the U.S. where a state-run health insurance exchange is taking form. Governor C.L. Otter is a strong supporter of the notion that Idaho should be allowed to operate its own exchange system, rather than allowing the federal government to do so. As such, Governor Otter has proposed legislation that would establish such an exchange. This week, the House Health and Welfare Committee will begin debate on the Governor’s proposed legislation.

Lawmakers remain divided on issue of exchange

Though the Governor is a strong supporter of a health insurance exchange, whether the state will operate this exchange is not yet certain. Idaho lawmakers that oppose the Affordable Care Act, of which the establishment of health insurance exchanges is a provision, do not support complying with federal law because they believe it is unconstitutional and irresponsible. Opponents of a state-run health insurance exchange suggest that such a program would be too expensive for the state to support, which would lead to more costly health insurance policies for residents as the state would need to levy an appropriate surcharge in order to ensure that the exchange is solvent.

Opposition may delay compliance with federal law

The issue has divided Idaho lawmakers, which has served to delay any action concerning establishing a health insurance exchange. Per federal law, all states must have an operational exchange in place by January 1, 2014. States that cannot meet this deadline, or opt out of building an exchange themselves, will lose control of an exchange to the federal government. Even if Idaho decides to abandon plans to construct and operate an exchange, one will be set up in the state by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Several issues remain unresolved for Idaho’s insurance exchange

The state’s House Health and Welfare Committee will debate the issues associated with a health insurance exchange. Cost will likely be a major point of contention among lawmakers. If Governor Otter’s plans are approved, the state will have to work on drafting regulations  that will govern the exchange, as well as reach out to insurance companies whose policies will populate the exchange market, both of which are time consuming efforts.

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