Eye On Boise

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

David Hensley, chief of staff to Gov. Butch Otter, presents health insurance exchange legislation to a Senate committee on Tuesday afternoon (Betsy Russell)
David Hensley, chief of staff to Gov. Butch Otter, presents health insurance exchange legislation to a Senate committee on Tuesday afternoon (Betsy Russell)

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
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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