As federal officials wrestle over whether HealthCare.gov will withstand the weight of millions of new customers and re-enrollees this fall, state brass with Your Health Idaho are looking to detach from the federal health insurance portal.
But they’re going to need help from Idahoans.
The state-run insurance marketplace has begun setting up state-based accounts through its own technology for the 76,000 residents who signed up for health care last year, said spokeswoman Jody Olson.
Idaho used HealthCare.gov’s Web system in its inaugural year, as officials believed accounts could easily be transferred. The federal government, however, continues to “drag its feet, and we still don’t have the data we were told we’d get,” Olson wrote in a release.
On July 31, the marketplace’s board decided to bypass federal officials and get the information it needs to re-enroll thousands of Idahoans by working with insurance carriers.
Your Health Idaho is asking those who enrolled last year to verify their information by Sept. 1 so the state can calculate 2015 tax credit rates. Residents can go online and fill out a form on yourhealthidaho.org/renewals, call their agent or 1-855-YH-Idaho or fill out the form mailed to them.
Open enrollment starts Nov. 15.
“They will have letters sent to them, and if they do nothing, they will be re-enrolled in the plan they have. But we need to verify and make sure that everything we have is accurate,” Olson said. “The reason we are doing this is to make sure we have no gaps in coverage.”
On top of the more than 8 million people who signed up for health insurance across the nation last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that an additional 5 million people bought coverage outside the market in Affordable Care Act-compliant plans.
Federal officials hope to grow insurance levels this year, as millions of Americans remain without coverage. But open enrollment comes at a time when public sentiment of the health-care law is at an all-time low.
A record number of surveyed Americans – 53 percent – told the Kaiser Family Foundation that they had an “unfavorable” view of the federal health overhaul. It’s the first time since October 2011 and only the second time since the law was passed that a majority of Americans felt that way, Kaiser reported.
Your Health Idaho will make a renewed media and education push in November to reach scores of uninsured Idahoans by the time enrollment ends Feb. 15.
One of state officials’ biggest tasks will be reaching those who were “left in no man’s land” by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s decision not to expand Medicaid eligibility, said state Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls.
Heider said he was skeptical, but the state will see a large growth in insured numbers this year. But Heider, chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said the state is doing a good job publicizing the coverage opportunity.
“If you want it, it will be available,” he said. “I’ve been amazed. I don’t think anyone has been turned down.”
©2014 The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho)