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Viewpoint: 40,000 Idahoans sign up for Medicaid expansion in first two weeks of enrollment

In this week's Viewpoint, Doug Petcash dives into coverage eligibility, how people can apply and what it means for the state's health insurance exchange.

BOISE, Idaho — Just under 40,000 people have applied for coverage under Idaho's voter-approved Medicaid Expansion in the first two weeks since enrollment opened.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare estimates 91,000 people are eligible for coverage, which starts January 1.

To be eligible you must be an Idaho resident who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident between the ages of 19 and 64. Your income must also fall within the range of 100 to 138% of the federal poverty level.

For a single person that is a yearly income of roughly $12,500 to $17,200. For a family of four, the income range is $25,750 to just over $35,500 per year.

RELATED: BYU-Idaho won’t accept Medicaid as health insurance

RELATED: About 35,000 Idahoans sign up for Medicaid under expansion

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director David Jeppesen says the department is still waiting for the federal government to rule on some waivers state lawmakers have requested, such as work requirements for Medicaid Expansion recipients. 

He adds that when Medicaid Expansion takes effect on January 1, 2020, it will go live without those waivers being applied, and it will offer recipients the same coverage as people already on Medicaid.

"If those waivers are approved at some point in the future, we would then start to apply them to the people that they impact," Jeppesen added.

IDHW would notify people when those changes take effect.

Your Health Idaho expects about 18,000 people who currently get coverage through the state health insurance exchange to qualify for coverage under Medicaid Expansion.

Executive Director Pat Kelly said the exchange is healthy enough to handle the loss of that many people.

"We've really focused on long-term financial sustainability, and this is part of our plan," Kelly said. "Everything we at the exchange really has a three, four or five-year view, if not longer. Very much a private business approach to our finances, and we're able to weather this type of change."

Open enrollment for coverage through Your Health Idaho runs through December 16. Those eligible for coverage under Medicaid Expansion can apply at any time.

For more information on Medicaid Expansion, click here. For more information on Your Health Idaho, click here.

This Sunday morning at 6:30 on Viewpoint, learn more about how Medicaid Expansion and Your Health Idaho operate separately and how they are intertwined this year.

RELATED: About 70,000 Idahoans already identified as eligible for Medicaid expansion

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