As the Open Enrollment Period for enrolling in a qualified health insurance plans kicks off for 2018, I thought it would be a good time to review some basics on how health insurance in Idaho works these days.
Open Enrollment Period
If you do not currently have a health insurance plan you have until December 15th to get signed up, or else you will most likely have to wait for 2019. If you already have a health insurance plan, the deadline to switch to a different plan is the same day, December 15th.
Who Qualifies for a premium tax credit?
APTC, or Advanced Premium Tax Credit is when your health insurance premiums are significantly reduced based on your income. Anyone who isn’t offered coverage from work and has income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty line based on their family size may qualify for the premium tax credit. Coverage from work also applies to spouses and children if coverage is offered to them. The 2018 federal poverty line for a family of 1 is $12,060 and goes up by $4,180 for each additional person in the family. 1. So a family of 4 can make as much as $98,400 and still qualify for a premium tax credit.
Options for Coverage in Idaho
Options are pretty slim in most states, including Idaho. There are 4 health insurance carriers (Mountain Health Co-op, Blue Cross, Select Health, and Pacific Source) offering individual and family coverage on and off the Idaho Exchange(must get coverage on exchange to get APTC) , and 1 more that offers individual coverage outside the exchange only (Regence). Of those 5, only 3 are really competitively priced. But then when you talk about price increases and deductibles that keep going up, there are really no “affordable” options for most people. With that being said, whatever your current situation is you might be able to save money by looking into all your options. The prices vary so much with each company each year that it is usually not in your best interest to stick with the same company year over year.
For example, I helped a family save hundreds of dollars a month by switching them from being a spouse and children on a school district employer health plan, to a family plan off the exchange with Regence, separate from their employer. Coverage for the actual employee is usually a very good price, but if your employer offers coverage for your spouse and children, it is usually more expensive then what you could get separate from your employer.
Another option to possibly consider, is Medi-Share, which is a Christian Care Ministry. It is not health insurance, but it works similarly at a much lower cost and has saved people thousands of dollars.
Last but not least, if you are seriously considering going without any coverage, I would suggest you look into Health Values, a supplemental insurance carrier, which covers accidents and is under $100 for the whole family no matter your age or health.
If you need help with your health insurance I am a licensed agent and work with the Idaho health insurance companies as well as Medi-Share and Health Values.
By Jimmy Hancock
- ASPE. “2017 Poverty Guidelines.” US Department of Health and Human Services, 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Oct. 2017. <https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines>.