Idaho likely to decide Monday on insurance extensions

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Idaho Department of Insurance director Bill Deal said he's likely to announce Monday whether his state will adopt President Barack Obama's proposal to extend old health insurance policies through 2014 that otherwise would be cancelled.

Through a spokeswoman on Friday, Deal said he's in discussions with Idaho insurers offering policies to individuals on how such a move would impact the state's health coverage marketplace.

President Obama on Thursday said he'd allow insurance companies to keep selling their old plans to people whose policies were going to be cancelled.

But that decision requires state approval.

Karen Early, spokeswoman for Blue Cross of Idaho, the state's largest insurer, says the extra time would help people, especially those trying to calculate subsidies on the flawed federal website.

"They'll have more opportunity and more time to figure out what they would like to change to," Early told KBOI News.

The extra time would probably benefit consumers as they plan their coverage, but for health insurance companies, it's a different story -- one more challenge.

"We've sent notices to thousands of our members telling them that they're going to need to make a choice," Early said. "Now we have to send out more notices telling them that has changed because of the president's decision. We've made lots of programming changes in our computers. The way our policies are rated, that all has to change. So there is a considerable amount of work for us to do."

Not everyone's on board with the president's fix.

Washington state is not extending insurance policies and some health insurance trade groups say the fix fouls a marketplace that's already adjusting to Obamacare.