By Carla Anderson
Republican Gov. Butch Otter announced in December 2012 that Idaho will implement a state-run health insurance exchange. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave conditional approval of the state’s plan in early January.
The state-run option was resisted by both the governor and many Republican legislators. Like those in other “red” states, Idaho leaders hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would find the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. However, after the Court upheld most elements of the ACA and a state task force in October 2012 strongly recommended a state-run exchange, Otter began leaning toward that option as preferable to a federally run exchange.
After Otter’s announcement in December, legislators began considering legislation, and chambers passed bills authorizing a state-run in exchange in the first quarter of 2013.
The Idaho Health Insurance Exchange is a quasi-governmental entity and governed by a 19-member board. The board retained a Boston firm, Public Consulting Group, to get the exchange operational. Public Consulting Group is helping develop the necessary information systems and overseeing seeing various exchange functions on behalf of the state. The board has also hired Gallatin Public Affairs to develop a marketing and communication campaign.
Five insurance companies will offer policies through the exchange: Altius, Blue Cross of Idaho, BridgeSpan, PacificSource, and SelectHealth.
About 200,000 Idaho residents do not have health insurance.