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More than 76,000 sign up for health insurance

West Valley Hospital equipment. Photo by Patrick Sweeney.

West Valley Hospital equipment. Photo by Patrick Sweeney.

More than 76,000 people signed up for health insurance on Idaho’s exchange through the end of March under the federal Affordable Care Act, officials said.

Your Health Idaho announced the total April 28 after figures were released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Federal authorities had set a goal of 40,000 signups in the state.

“We are excited so many people were able to find a health insurance plan to fit their needs and the needs of their family,” Amy Dowd, executive director of Your Health Idaho, said in a statement.

Agency officials expect a more complete breakdown toward the end of the week concerning what plans were selected and the ages of those signing up.

A critical plan component for the Affordable Care Act is having enough healthy young people enrolled in plans so their premiums can help cover the costs of older people with more health issues.

The board of directors for Your Health Idaho voted at its most recent meeting to keep the assessment at 1.5 percent on each policy premium. Plans sold through the federal marketplace charge a 3.5 percent assessment.

“We are committed to keeping our assessment fees low,” Dowd said.

Officials said the lower fee saved Idahoans $4.4 million, based on the average monthly premium of $242.

The operating budget for Your Health Idaho currently comes from federal grant money, but that will change to just the assessment fee starting in January 2016.

Open enrollment has ended, but those who experience significant life changes could qualify for a special enrollment period. Those changes include such things as getting married, having or adopting a child and moving to another state.

Exchanges in Idaho and elsewhere are a key part of President Obama’s plan to insure more people, allowing individuals and small businesses to shop for federally subsidized policies for themselves, family members and employees on the Internet.

Idaho lawmakers last year approved the state-based Internet marketplace for insurance that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter championed as better than the federal government version, saying it would give Idaho local control over the process.

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