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Gov’s chief of staff on exchange: ‘If we can save Idahoans money, we should’

David Hensley, chief of staff to Gov. Butch Otter, told the Senate Commerce Committee this afternoon that the cost to build and set up a state-based health insurance exchange like the one Otter is proposing is about $20 million, and there is a federal grant for $20 million available to the proposed exchange board to do that. Then, the estimate is that the annual operating cost would be about $10 million. “From our standpoint, that can be achieved through a per-member, per-month fee or a premium charge,” Hensley said, “and if you think about 177,000 people using this exchange … you can see that we could have a per-member, per-month fee of $4.80 to cover the cost of operating the exchange on an annual basis. Now, that works out to about $58 per year.”

By contrast, he said, the federal government has informed Idaho that if the state goes with a federally operated exchange, “They believe they will generate $28 million a year from a 3.5 percent premium tax, a premium fee, on the same 177,000 people who participate in the exchange, with an average premium on an annual basis of $4,650. Doing the math, that works out to a per-member, per-month fee of about $13.55.”

Said Hensley, “At the end of the day, if we can save Idahoans money, which we believe we can, by operating this in a more efficient manner, we should.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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