How to Sign Up for ACA Health Insurance in Idaho

Posted on 01/25/23 by Andrew Soergel, Elissa Chudwin

En español | Most Idaho residents are eligible to buy health insurance through Your Health Idaho, the state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, during open enrollment, which begins Oct. 15, 2023, for 2024 health insurance coverage.

If you experience a qualifying life event — such as the birth of a child, a move, a marriage, a divorce or the loss of your employer-provided health insurance — you may be able to enroll or change your coverage outside of open enrollment.

Most people enrolled in ACA marketplace plans have seen their premiums go down because the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) increased tax credits for insurance premiums and expanded the number of households that qualify for them. Every household that pays more than 8.5 percent of its household income now qualifies for federal tax credits to help afford health insurance. These enhanced subsidies are available through 2025. 

Prior to the 2021 law, such tax credits were only available to people earning less than a certain salary ($54,360 for one person). Most Americans with a marketplace plan can save an average of about $800 per year, according to the federal government.

  • Most Idahoans, including non-U.S. citizens with worker or student visas, are eligible to buy health insurance through Your Health Idaho when open enrollment begins, if they don’t experience a qualifying life event before then.
  • Idahoans who experience a qualifying life event have 60 days from that event to enroll in a Your Health Idaho plan during a special enrollment period. Qualifying life events include birth or adoption, loss of employer-provided coverage, marriage or divorce, moving and certain other special circumstances. Members of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes can enroll in or change plans once per month.
  • Low-income households may also qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid, which allows for year-round enrollment. Complete an application through the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to see if you or someone in your household is eligible.

Create an account with Your Health Idaho. Include your Social Security number, your date of birth, your phone number and a valid email address when you register for an account. Call customer service at 855-944-3246 with questions.

When you apply for Your Health Idaho coverage, your eligibility for a tax credit or other cost savings also will automatically be determined. Use Your Health Idaho’s Tax Credit Estimator to estimate your savings for health insurance coverage.

From there, you can apply for insurance online, by phone, by mail or through a local enrollment expert.

  • By phone: Call Your Health Idaho’s help line at 855-944-3246.
  • By mail: Call 855-944-3246 to request a paper application, which you can return by mail to:
    PO Box 50143
    Boise, Idaho, 83705
  • Through a local enrollment expert: Set up a free call or a meeting with a local certified agent or broker, who can help you navigate your options and select the right plan for you.

Once you’re enrolled, you’ll need to pay your first monthly premium to your insurance provider for your coverage to begin.

Coverage and cost depend on where you live, the type of plan you choose, your estimated household income, and the age and disability status of you and your family. 

If you qualify for Medicaid, you will be able to get free or low-cost coverage and may not need to worry about premiums or copays, depending on your level of income.

All Your Health Idaho plans cover 10 “essential” benefits, including: 

  • Emergency services and hospitalization 
  • Maternity, newborn and pediatric care 
  • Mental health services (including counseling) 
  • Preventive care and doctors visits
  • Prescription drugs 

Insurance companies cannot deny coverage because of preexisting conditions. When you apply, you can identify your medical needs and choose a plan that makes financial sense for you and your family. 

All Idaho plans cover basic dental services for children, including cleanings and exams. But adults who want dental coverage must add it to their policy. Deductibles and out-of-pocket costs vary between plans; enrolling in a family plan can cut costs.

Every eligible household that pays insurance premiums that exceed 8.5 percent of its annual income qualifies for federal tax credits for insurance premiums through 2025.

According to Megan O’Reilly, AARP vice president of government affairs for health and family, subsidy recipients ages 50 to 64 have already seen average annual savings of more than $950.

Yes. If you qualify for a premium tax credit, you may also qualify for a cost-sharing reduction that would help you pay for such out-of-pocket expenses as deductibles and copays. You must enroll in a Silver-level plan to get this assistance. Your Health Idaho estimates that more than 80 percent of people who are currently enrolled qualify for financial help.

Your Health Idaho’s plans are organized into three categories: 

  • Bronze plans have the lowest monthly premiums, and the highest deductibles and copays. They cover roughly 60 percent of care costs.
  • Silver plans have moderate monthly premiums, deductibles and copays. They cover 70 percent of care costs. They’re the only plans eligible for cost-sharing subsidies. 
  • Gold plans have higher monthly premiums, lower deductibles and copays, and cover roughly 80 percent of care costs. 

Idaho residents under 30 can also apply for a catastrophic plan offering low premiums but limited coverage. You can compare estimated plan costs using Your Health Idaho’s website.

If you already have coverage through your employer or directly through an insurance provider but are eligible for lower premiums, you can switch to Your Health Idaho during open enrollment. But you may not qualify for tax credits if you opt out of your employer’s plan — unless those premiums exceed a certain portion of your household income. The premiums would need to be more than 9.12 percent of your household income for individual coverage in order for you to qualify for the tax credits. 

If you get coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) because you were terminated from a job or recently lost employer health insurance, you may be eligible for a Your Health Idaho plan during special enrollment. Before you enroll in COBRA, choose and apply for a Your Health Idaho plan. Otherwise, you won’t be eligible for special enrollment until your COBRA coverage ends. If you’re not sure about whether to switch out of COBRA, you can ask for free advice from a local insurance agent or broker.

That depends. Major insurance providers, including Blue Cross of Idaho and Select Health, offer Your Health Idaho plans, but not all doctors accept them. Talk to your doctor to see whether they will accept a marketplace plan. 

It depends. You can enroll as a family. But in some cases, some family members may also be eligible for certain subsidies or other programs, depending on age, income and disability, or caregiver status. Such families may choose to enroll separately. Family members may still be able to see the same doctor or go to the same medical practice, depending on the types of insurance plans accepted. 

This guide was updated on Jan. 25, 2023, with open enrollment dates for 2024 health insurance coverage.

This story is provided by AARP Idaho. Visit the AARP Idaho page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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