Idaho to allow policies that skirt health law


Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho

Concerned about soaring health care costs, Idaho on Wednesday revealed a plan that will allow insurance companies to sell cheap policies that ditch key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

It’s believed to be the first state to take formal steps without prior federal approval for creating policies that do not comply with the Obama-era health care law. Health care experts say the move is legally dubious, a concern supported by internal records obtained by The Associated Press.

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 we be successful.”

Many states have seen annual double-digit increases in health-insurance premium costs. That is expected to continue – and perhaps get worse – under the recently signed 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.

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