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Idaho's health insurance exchange celebrates its 10-year anniversary

Courtesy of Your Health Idaho

"Your Health Idaho" is billed as an Idaho-driven version of Obamacare.

Your Health Idaho was approved by the legislature in 2013 as a state-directed alternative to the federal exchange that was authorized by Obamacare.

Pat Kelly, the executive director of Your Health Idaho, says enrollment has fluctuated since the initial open enrollment period for 2014, when 76,000 people signed upfor coverage. Enrollment peaked at 106,000 in 2017. Last November, 94,000 bought coverage through the exchange, often with the help of private insurance brokers.

“We see about three-quarters of our enrollments work with those professionals across the state and that’s almost twice as much as any other state in terms of that real local solution, working with those agents and brokers," he said.

Kelly says seven out of eight customers qualified for tax credits this year to lower their premiums. And he says the competition among providers has grown. Eight medical and four dental insurance companies are writing policies for customers, up from four and two in the first year.

There was resistance from many in the initial years of the exchange, but Kelly says Your Health Idaho has grown to be popular among Idaho residents.

“I think the service that we provide to Idahoans helps them live healthier lives and, more importantly, they have the peace of mind knowing that if something happens unexpectedly, accidents do happen, that the peace of mind that comes with having health insurance really lets them live their lives to the fullest," he said.

Kelly says about a fifth of his customers have bought through the exchange every year since its inception.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.