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MY TURN: More Idahoans now have access to affordable health coverage

by TARA MALEK/Guest Opinion
| November 19, 2022 1:00 AM

Health insurance allows you to live in the moment and be prepared for the unexpected.

Almost 700,000 Idahoans have health insurance coverage through their employer, but many still face unaffordable costs to cover their spouse and children. This problem is known as the “Family Glitch.”

In 2010, the definition of affordable employer-sponsored health insurance changed. Whether an employer plan was affordable depended solely on the cost of health insurance for the employee even if the cost of coverage for other household members under the same definition and plan was unaffordable. Not only that, but family members became ineligible to receive a tax credit to use on Idaho’s state-based exchange, Your Health Idaho, to ease health insurance costs. In many cases this meant that families had to choose between paying rent or buying food and providing their family with health insurance.

But the glitch is getting fixed. Starting in 2023, affordability is now determined separately for employees and families. If a monthly premium for an employee or the entire family exceeds 9.12% of the household income, families may qualify for a tax credit. For example, a married couple that makes $40,000 a year might have a monthly employee-only premium of $100, while the monthly premium for the couple combined is $350. The employee-only cost is considered affordable, but the combined cost is unaffordable, which means that the employee’s spouse may now qualify for a tax credit. In the case of a family of four with an annual family income of $60,000, the employee’s monthly premium is $75 and the monthly premium for the entire family is $475. The employee’s premium is considered affordable and under the new rules the family premium will be considered unaffordable, so the family members may qualify for a tax credit.

What does this really mean for Idahoans? More people will have access to affordable, quality health coverage, and many may even qualify for a tax credit for the first time ever.

If all these numbers are overwhelming, Your Health Idaho’s application process takes care of the math for you. Applying for insurance and a tax credit is done at the same time, on the same application. If you are unsure about when you can enroll or if you are eligible for a tax credit, Customer Advocates are ready to answer questions and can be reached at 855-944-3246 or at YourHealthIdaho.org. There is also a state-wide network of certified agents and brokers who can help find the plan that meets your needs.

No one plans on getting sick, and at some point, everyone needs medical care. Health insurance can help you focus on what’s important, like getting better or taking care of your loved ones.

The time is now. Don’t wait, Open Enrollment ends Thursday, Dec. 15.

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Tara Malek is a board member for Your Health Idaho.

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