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Higher demand for marketplace coverage slows Idaho applications

Your Health Idaho

People applying for health coverage through Idaho’s online marketplace are running into delays. The slowdowns are being caused by higher demand for individual coverage during this year’s open enrollment period.

Pat Kelly, the head of Your Health Idaho, said 7,000 people are applying for coverage through the state’s marketplace this year. People who are leaving their jobs may be signing up because they lost employer-provided coverage. But Kelly said it’s unclear what role, if any, the Great Resignation is playing.

Many of the people who find their coverage through Your Health Idaho are customers that return year to year, Kelly said.

"The exchange is really here to help people who are looking for coverage. They don't receive health insurance through their employer, they're not eligbile for Medicare or Medicaid," Kelly said. "We're also here for people that are in more of a transition -- people that may be between jobs, looking for coverage while they are without employer-sponsored coverage, or those that are transition into other prorgams, such as Medicaid or Medicare."

Tax credits that reduce the cost of monthly premia may be a biggest factor than job losses, Kelly said. More than 80 percent of enrolled Idahoans qualify for some level of tax credit, according to Your Health Idaho.

"We think if there is one thing that’s driving demand, that is the additional savings people are seeing through enhanced tax credits. That is likely driving the bulk of our demand," Kelly said.

The wave of interest this year is putting pressure on the Idaho marketplace staff to process applications quickly. Adding to the delays, eligibility for the tax credit  is based on several factors like household size and income. The process to verify that information can take several days. But Kelly said if Idahoans submit applications by December 22, their health coverage will begin New Year’s Day.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for nearly twenty years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.