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Changes come to health exchange

Starting Oct. 1 the Health Exchange marketplace will open for people to shop for insurance plans, but changes are being made every day to the health exchange.

The Idaho Health Exchange was offering 161 plans to look for, but Thursday Stephen Weeg, chairperson for the Idaho Health Exchange, said there are now 146 plans available.

Weeg said people will have about 10 to 15 plans to choose from depending on their location. He added the limited plans will make shopping for insurance easier.

“If you have health insurance through your employer and the employer is going to continue health insurance, you’re fine. If you heave individual coverage right now or if you’re uninsured or if your employer is dropping coverage, than you can start looking at what your options may be,” said Weeg.

Weeg added that most people will need someone to help guide them through the new health plans.

“If they want to do it on their own they can, but that’s where an insurance agent would be very helpful to sort out what the plans mean,” said Weeg.

Independent insurance brokers are available for guidance, often with no cost. Rudy Ballard owns Ballard Insurance Group in Rexburg. He’s been a broker for 18 years and keeping up with the changes to the health exchange “through hundreds of emails on a daily basis for 2 1/2,” said Ballard.

Ballard said within a few minutes he can help find the right policy.

“It’s different than it used to be. In the fact that now your options depend on your household size and also your income,” said Ballard.

Ballard first helps figure out which income bracket people fit into, then he works to find the right plan.

He says knowing how much tax credit you get will help lower the cost of your new health insurance.

“Let’s say your actual insurance premium is $1,000 a month, but the government is going to pay $800. The plan will charge you $200 and the insurance carrier will bill the government for the other $800. For some people it is going to be the sweetest things that’s happened to them and for others it’s gong to be very difficult,” said Ballard.

Open enrollment begins Oct. 1st through March 31st.

To have your coverage kick in by the first of the year, you will need to pick a plan by mid-December.

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