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Time running out for Idahoans to sign up for health insurance

The Aberdeen Times of Aberdeen, Idaho

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With the nation's March 31 open enrollment deadline looming, nearly 44,000 Idahoans have signed up for health insurance through Your Health Idaho, Idaho's state-based health insurance exchange.

"The number of Idahoans who have used Your Health Idaho to meet their needs and the needs of their families speaks to the value of a state-based health insurance exchange," said Jody Olson, Your Health Idaho communications director. "Each month, we continue to have thousands of people sign up for insurance. In fact, Idaho is second in the nation per capita for the number of people selecting plans on the exchange."

Your Health Idaho never set a goal for the number of people it wanted to sign up for health insurance during the first open enrollment period, however, the Congressional Budget Office set target numbers for each state. Idaho's target was set at 40,000 people enrolled.

At the beginning of March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 43,861 Idahoans had selected a health insurance plan through Your Health Idaho.

While 27 percent of Idahoans who have signed up for insurance are between the ages of 55 and 64, the highest percentage of any age group, the number of young adults is not far behind. Of all the people who have selected a plan, 26 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. This age group has been nicknamed the young "invincible" population and is crucial to the long-term sustainability of Your Health Idaho.

Each month, Your Health Idaho has seen big increases in enrollment numbers. From February to March, the number of people who selected a plan increased by 33 percent. Olson thinks Idaho may see an even bigger jump when the final enrollment numbers are released.

"The deadline to sign-up for health insurance is really just a matter of days away," said Olson. "There isn't a lot of time left for people to decide if they want to sign up for insurance or not."

Olson said more than 30,000 Idahoans have already started the application process for Your Health Idaho but they have not yet selected a plan. For people who still have not signed up, Olson said do not wait until the last minute to start the process.

"For some individuals finding and signing up for a health insurance plan can take less than an hour," said Olson, "However, for others the process can take a lot longer than that. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time and don't wait until the last minute."

Idahoans who do not select a health insurance plan before the end of March will have to pay a penalty, either $95 per adult and $47.50 per child or one percent of a person's total household income, whichever is greater.

"It is important for people to know, they do not have to go through this process alone," said Olson. "There is free help available to Idahoans. So, if you have questions or you aren't sure where to start, reach out and get help."

Any Idahoan who needs help may call the Your Health Idaho Consumer Resource Center toll free at 1-855-YH-Idaho. Representatives are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. People can also email customerservice@YourHealthIdaho.org or visit YourHealthIdaho.org to find a Consumer Connector which includes In-Person Assisters, insurance agents or brokers in their city who can help walk them through selecting and signing up for a health insurance plan.

Your Health Idaho was established by State law in 2013 to provide an online marketplace where Idaho families and small businesses can go to compare and purchase health insurance. Your Health Idaho is governed by an 18-member board authorized by the Idaho Legislature to set the rules and regulations for implementing a state-based health insurance exchange. For more information visit www.yourhealthidaho.org.



Copyright 2014 The Aberdeen Times, Aberdeen, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: March 26, 2014



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