Idaho is one of 13 new states to receive grants to help them create Health Insurance Exchanges. The Affordable Care Act mandates that every state have a Health Insurance Exchange, either a state or a federal exchange, in place by January 1, 2014. Even though the state of Idaho has joined other states in suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act, the state is taking federal money to establish an Exchange that would be state controlled. The health care reform law gives states the freedom to design Affordable Insurance Exchanges – one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan that fits their health needs and have the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress.
“We are committed to giving states the flexibility to implement the Affordable Care Act in the way that works for them,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Exchanges will give consumers more choices and make it easy to compare and shop for insurance plans.”
In the new Exchanges, insurers will provide new information such as an easy-to-understand summary of benefits and costs to consumers. The level of detail will sharpen competition between carriers which will drive costs down. In Idaho, it is anticipated that licensed Heath Agents will also be available to help consumers understand, compare and select the best individual plans for them.
It should be noted that the formation of Exchanges addresses access and standardization but does not address the cost of health care. Beginning in 2014 insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people with any pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes and asthma. The inclusion of more insureds with chronic conditions and expensive treatments may dramatically increase the premium rates of all insureds.
Source: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), News Release – Nov 29, 2011