Washington, Oregon and Idaho have chosen to run their own insurance exchanges

LEWISTON, ID - Starting in October, uninsured Americans across the country can start enrolling for health insurance. But what does that mean? And furthermore how do you do it? KLEW News talks to Idaho Representative John Rusche, who helped create Idaho's Health Exchange, to learn more.

Idaho Representative John Rusche is one of nineteen leaders on the state of Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Board. They've been working since April to get an insurance plan for Idaho residents.

"There's still is a lot of confusion about the Affordable Care Act. In fact a number of people believe it never was enacted," said Rusche.

Starting in October, people who don't have insurance can start signing up for the state-based program. Seventeen states in the country chose to run their own insurance exchanges. Washington, Oregon and Idaho are all in that group.

"We believe that we'll have a product that works, a tool that works for people to help pick the right insurance for them," said Rusche.

Both Idaho and Washington have created call centers and online programs to help people pick what's best suited for them. And the process needs to be easy, because there's a looming deadline.

"The fact is as of January people will need to have health insurance or face a fine," said Rusche.

The Health Insurance Exchange is only relevant for people ages eighteen to sixty-five. Medicare recipients aren't eligible.

"Some employers can't afford to provide for their employees," said Rusche. "Some employees can't afford to participate in the employer's health plan. For them, the exchange is going to be a good deal."

Representative Rusche said he'll be holding question and answer sessions as the January first deadline gets closer. Those in Washington can log on to the Washington Healthplanfinder website to request that a speaker comes to answer questions in their area.

If you'd like to explore the state-based health exchange websites for Idaho and Washington, find us on Facebook where we've posted links. Just search KLEW News and like the page to join.