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Idaho Republicans Seek To Rollback ACA Protections

Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron.Screengrab/Idaho Public Television/YouTube

Idaho would allow insurance carriers to charge older customers as much as five times more than others for premiums.

Idaho announced Wednesday that it will begin allowing health insurers in the state to offer cheaper plans that are not in accordance with key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

ABC News reports that this will make Idaho the first state to skirt the rules without permission from the federal government, leading some to question the legality of the move.

Idaho Department of Insurance Director Dean Cameron said the move is necessary to make cheaper plans available to more people. Otherwise, he said he fears the state's individual health insurance marketplace will eventually collapse as healthy residents choose to go uninsured rather than pay for expensive plans that comply with the federal law.

"There are other states that have been talking about it, but we may be out in front," Cameron said. "They may look to follow us should be we successful."

Numerous states have witnessed dramatic increases in health insurance premiums - a trend that will likely continue following the implementation of the Republican tax plan.

The new tax law ended the Affordable Care Act provision that required people to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Without the threat of a penalty, health care experts predict that younger and healthier people will go without policies. That will leave sicker patients in the marketplaces, forcing insurers to raise costs.

What changes will Idaho make in an attempt to mitigate rising costs?

  • Insurers could offer plans that deny coverage for pre-existing conditions for up to 12 months unless the customer had continuous prior coverage.
  • They will no longer be required to cover pediatric dental or vision care.
  • Though insurers will have to offer at least one maternity/newborn plan, other plans will not have to offer such coverage.
  • People could see their premiums determined based on where they live, their health history and their age.
  • Insurers could charge different out-of-pocket maximums for difference services: "In other words, a customer could have a $7,000 out-of-pocket annual maximum for prescription drugs, another for doctor visits and another for hospitalization or mental health care."

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