A Cheaper Alternative to Obamacare Is a Hit in Idaho, by John Tozzi

There is apparently a loophole now in Obamacare that allows an insurance option that healthy people want: affordable insurance that offers fewer options but covers them in the even of a medical catastrophe. As a healthy, uninsured New Mexican, I wish blue state New Mexico would adopt red state Idaho’s solution, but that isn’t going to happen. From John Tozzi at bloomberg.com:

Thousands of people have applied for new health plans in Idaho that revive insurance-industry practices banned by the Affordable Care Act, including charging sick people higher premiums and limiting coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Early demand exceeded expectations at Blue Cross of Idaho, the first carrier to sell the plans. The company got about 3,000 applications since it began marketing the plans Dec. 1; it had expected 800 at the most. The insurer covers about 575,000 statewide.

“It flooded our underwriters,” said Peter Sorensen, vice president for individual and government markets at Blue Cross of Idaho, the state’s largest health insurer. About 1,500 members accepted the insurer’s rate quotes and paid for policies that took effect Jan. 1, the company said. An additional 150 have already paid for coverage beginning in February.

With the debut of the policies in January, Idaho has gone further than any other state in loosening requirements on health insurers that the ACA imposed in 2014. It plans to offer low-cost insurance to people priced out of Obamacare and draw them back into the insurance market.

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