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Report shines light on Idaho's underinsured


The group Insure Idaho held a demonstration on the fourth floor of the Idaho Statehouse on April 4 to announce the release of their new report, titled The Private Health Insurance System is Failing Idaho's Families and Small Businesses. The report gathers a handful of horror stories about Idahoans affected by high insurance premiums and prescription drug prices, but insufficient insurance coverage, and calls for Idaho legislators to step in on their behalf.

"Legislators may be going home, but we're still here-and so is the crisis," said speaker Darla Campbell, a medical assistant from Boise who has been unable to afford medical insurance. According to the report, over 250,000 Idahoans are uninsured, an increase of 30 percent since 2000. However, at least 88 percent of the uninsured live in a household with at least one employed provider, which Insure Idaho says illustrates how insurers are discriminating against small employers and the self-employed-especially since half of all Idaho businesses employ 50 workers or less.

The group is calling for intervention from the Idaho Legislature to help add a few new caveats into insurance legislation, including requiring health insurance companies to get approval from the Department of Insurance before raising premium rates for small businesses; holding public meetings prior to rate increases; and reducing "rate bands," which allow insurance companies to charge different prices to different customers for identical services. This last phenomenon, the group says, amounts to little more than discrimination against small businesses and individuals.

"What good is insurance if it doesn't cover what you need covered, or if you can't afford to use it because your deductible is so high?" said speaker Dave Whaley, president of the Idaho State AFL-CIO. "This is the new face of the health insurance crisis-the underinsured-and that includes a great number of us." To obtain a copy of the report, contact Insure Idaho at