Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues…

State Marketplace Profiles: Idaho


Final update made on October 3, 2013 (no further updates will be made)

Establishing the Marketplace

On December 11, 2012, Governor C.L. Otter (R) announced Idaho’s commitment to the establishment of a State-based health insurance Marketplace and on March 28, 2013 signed into law legislation (HB248) creating the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange.12 In August 2013, the state announced that the online marketplace would be called Your Health Idaho.3

While the Governor had previously signed an Executive Order blocking the implementation of health reform in Idaho, he remained favorable towards exploring the creation of a state-run health insurance Marketplace.45 Following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in June 2012, Governor Otter stated that Idaho would work towards a market-based solution and research whether and how to implement a Marketplace. He announced the creation of new work groups to collect data on the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion.6  The Exchange workgroup was be led by the Idaho Insurance Department and representatives of key stakeholders have been appointed by the Governor including: insurers, physicians, brokers, business owners, advocacy groups, researchers and a trade association.7 In October 2012, the work group issued findings recommending the state pursue a State-based Marketplace.8

Throughout 2011, the Idaho Department of Insurance and the Department of Health and Welfare moved forward with Marketplace planning, creating the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Project. The Exchange Project organized various work groups as well as stakeholder meetings with business owners, medical providers, insurers, Idaho Tribes, consumer advocates and the general public. The Governance work group was responsible for the initial drafting of the establishment legislation presented to the Health Care Task Force.9 The work group passed a motion in June 2011, to implement a state-run Marketplace over a federally-run one and approved seeking additional federal funding for Marketplace implementation in the state; however, the Exchange Project suspended its website in early 2012.

In April 2011, the Governor signed into law a measure prohibiting abortion coverage in the state’s health insurance exchange except in cases of life endangerment of the pregnant woman, rape or incest (SB 1115).10

Structure: The legislation defines Idaho’s Exchange as a quasi-governmental organization, specifically an “independent body corporate and politic.”

Governance: Your Health Idaho is governed by a nineteen-member board, including two non-voting ex officio members (or their designees): the Director of the Department of Insurance and the Director of the Department of Health and Welfare. The Governor appoints fourteen members of the board, the Speaker of the House appoints a member of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore appoints a member of the Senate, and minority leadership appoints a member of the legislature representing the minority party. Members appointed by the Governor serve four-year terms. The legislation specifies that the Board should collectively offer expertise in health benefits administration, health care finance, health plan purchasing, health care delivery system administration, public health, and health policy issues related to small business and individual markets and the uninsured. A majority of the board may not collectively represent health carriers and producers.

Members of the Board, persons within the member’s household, or any entity with which the member is associated cannot benefit financially from any action taken by the Board. Members must fully disclose conflicts of interest and abstain from voting on issues in which there is a conflict of interest.

Current appointed Board members are:

  • Stephen Weeg, formerly of Health West
  • Mark Estess, AARP
  • Karen Vauk, Idaho Food Bank
  • Dave Self, Pacific Source
  • Scott Kreiling, Regence Blue Shield of Idaho
  • Zelda Geyer-Sylvia, Blue Cross of Idaho
  • B. Hyatt Erstad, Erstad and Co.
  • Tom Shores, Shores Insurance
  • Frank Chan, Applied Computing
  • Jeff Agenbroad, Since 86, Inc.
  • Kevin Settles, Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery
  • Fernando Veloz, MS Administrative Services
  • John Livingston, M.D.
  • Margaret Henbest, R.N., Idaho Alliance of Leaders in Nursing
  • Senator Jim Rice
  • Representative Kelley Packer
  • Representative John Rusche

The Board first met in April 2013 and established six subcommittees: information technology, finance, governance, operations, outreach and education, and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.  Also in April 2013, the Board hired an Executive Director.

Contracting with Plans: The legislation specifies that the Exchange will function as a clearinghouse; all carriers, health benefit plans, and stand-alone dental plans will be allowed to participate in the Exchange as long as they are in compliance with state and Exchange law.

In March 2013, the Department of Insurance (DOI) established a process for reviewing and accepting submissions of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) to be sold through Your Health Idaho.11 Carriers are required to offer at least one silver and one gold plan in each market in which they want to participate. They must also offer a silver metal level plan that reflects cost-sharing reductions and two plans for Native Americans at all metal levels.12 Eight carriers were certified to offer coverage through Your Health Idaho; however, one carrier withdrew. A total of 146 plans will be offered on the Marketplace, including 61 individual plans, 55 small group plans, 13 individual dental plans, and 17 small group dental plans.13

The DOI received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to define Idaho’s geographic rating areas based on three-digit zip codes rather than the federal default. As a result, Idaho will be divided into seven geographic rating areas. Idaho’s age and tobacco rating ratios will comply with the federal default. The DOI plans to use network adequacy standards similar to the standards established by the Department of Health and Human Services for Federally-facilitated Marketplaces.14

Consumer Assistance and Outreach: In August 2013, Your Health Idaho awarded a total of $1.7 million in grants to eight In-Person Assister (IPA) organizations to provide education and enrollment assistance to consumers seeking to enroll into coverage through the Marketplace. IPAs will focus on providing education and eligibility assistance, and their services will be available at 150 locations statewide. IPAs will complete a 20 hour training course and must pass a test and a background check in order to become certified. The Marketplace intends to establish a Navigator program in 2014.15

IPAs and agents/brokers together are known as Consumer Connectors. Agents/brokers are expected to play a major role in enrolling individuals, small employers, and employees into coverage through Your Health Idaho. IPAs and call center staff are strongly encouraged to refer consumers to agents/brokers to select a plan and complete the enrollment process. Agents/brokers must complete the federal training course in order to participate on the Your Health Idaho Marketplace.

In July 2013, the state awarded a contract to develop the Marketplace’s branding, establish a communications strategy, develop educational materials, and manage media relations.16 Your Health Idaho plans to launch a $3.5 million marketing campaign, including television, radio, internet, and newspaper advertisements, in late October.17 In August 2013, the Marketplace launched a consumer-facing website, including a subsidy calculator. The website also features a Consumer Connector Locator that consumers may use to search for an IPA or an agent/broker in their zip code. In September 2013, the Your Health Idaho consumer resource center opened. Call center services are available in English and Spanish, and staff have been trained to refer consumers to an agent/broker for assistance in selecting a plan.18

Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace: The DOI will not merge the small group and individual markets into a single risk pool, and enrollment in the SHOP Marketplace will be limited to small employers with up to 50 employees. The Board has the authority to set a minimum participation requirement but has not yet established such a requirement.12

Essential Health Benefits (EHB): The ACA requires that all non-grandfathered individual and small-group plans sold in a state, including those offered through the Marketplace, cover certain defined health benefits. Since Idaho has not put forward a recommendation, the state’s benchmark EHB plan will default to the largest small-group plan in the state, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Idaho- Preferred Blue PPO.

Marketplace Funding

The Idaho Department of Insurance received a $1 million federal Exchange Planning grant in September 2010. In November 2011, the Department of Health and Welfare, in collaboration with the Department of Insurance, received a $20.3 million federal Level One Establishment grant for the procurement and development of Marketplace and Medicaid information technology systems.19 In August 2013, Your Health Idaho applied for a $70 million Level One Establishment grant to fund Marketplace functions through 2014.20

Next Steps

On January 3, 2013, Idaho received conditional approval from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a State-based Marketplace.21 As of October 1, 2013, individuals, families, and small businesses are able to enroll into coverage through the Marketplace; however, Your Health Idaho is using the federal government’s online eligibility and enrollment system for both the SHOP and individual Marketplaces until its IT platform is fully developed. The Your Health Idaho Marketplace IT system is expected to be operational in early 2014.22

For additional information on Idaho’s Marketplace see and

  1. News Release Governor Otter. “Governor Opts for State-based Exchange” December 11, 2012. 

    ← Return to text

  2. Legislature of the State of Idaho. House Bill No. 248

    ← Return to text

  3. "Your Health Idaho Unveils New Logo and Launches Web site, Outreach Efforts." August 20, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  4. Executive Order No. 2011-03. April 20, 2011. 

    ← Return to text

  5. Governor’s News Release. Governor Opts to Seek Federal Funding for Implementing State-based Health Exchange. September 19, 2011. 

    ← Return to text

  6. Governor’s News Release. Idaho’s Next Steps on Obamacare Require Further Study, Careful Consideration. July 10, 2012. 

    ← Return to text

  7. Saunders, Emilie. NPR. “Gov. Otter Appoints Public and Private Stakeholders to study Medicaid Expansion, Insurance Exchange.” July 13, 2012. 

    ← Return to text

  8. Health Insurance Exchange Working group findings. DOI. October 30, 2012. 

    ← Return to text

  9. An Act Relating to the Health Insurance Exchange. Proposed legislation presented November 17, 2011 to the Health Care Task Force. 

    ← Return to text

  10. Senate Bill 1115. Signed into law April 1, 2011. 

    ← Return to text

  11. State of Idaho Department of Insurance. Notice RE: Submission and Review of Rate/Form Filings. March 26, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  12. State of Idaho Department of Insurance. Idaho Carrier Questions and Answers. May 3, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  13. UPDATE: Idahoans to Have Robust Choice of Health Plans on Your Health." September 18, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  14. State of Idaho Department of Insurance. Bulletin NO. 13-02. March 29, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  15. Idaho Health Insurance Exchange. Consumer Connector Program. August 13, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  16. Idaho insurance exchange awards first contract, for outreach, communications." July 15, 2013.

    ← Return to text

  17. For Idaho uninsured, exchange starts Tuesday." September 30, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  18. Your Health Idaho Opens Consumer Resource Center.” September 25, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  19. Idaho Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants Awards List

    ← Return to text

  20. Idaho Health Insurance Exchange. Second Level 1 Grant Funding Request. August 13, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  21. Letter from HHS to Governor Otter. January 3, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

  22. Otter, Idaho exchange officials defend exchange, say feds won’t run it.” May 23, 2013. 

    ← Return to text

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.