Conflict of interest concerns raised over Idaho exchange contract

BOISE - Idaho has hired St. Luke's Health System to help people choose which insurance plans to pick on the online insurance exchange, even though the healthcare giant stands to financially benefit when customers choose certain plans.

Some Your Health Idaho board members raised concerns Friday because there is no oversight mechanism that would keep the hospital from steering customers to more lucrative plans. Still, they voted unanimously to approve the $272,000 contract with St. Luke's and the Idaho Primary Care Association after asking Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly to find a way to audit the contractors.

Kelly says the concerns are unnecessary because the contractors are required to be impartial and not make recommendations. They are simply supposed to advise customers about the different plans available and tell them how to sign up.

St. Luke's has a business partnership with Utah-based insurer SelectHealth, one of the four carriers on the exchange.

St. Luke's public relations manager Anita Kissee said Saturday in an email to KTVB that out of the $272,000 contract voted on, St. Luke's has $18,164 -- less than seven percent. Also, of the applicants assisted by St. Luke's enrollment counselors in the last two years, the majority selected a plan with Mountain Health Co-op. The second most-selected was SelectHealth, followed by Blue Cross, Bridgespan, and PacificSource.

Enrollment counselors undergo background checks and fingerprinting. They also sign a legally binding affidavit agreeing to be impartial, and to refer any requests for plan recommendations to a licensed agent or broker, Kissee said.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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