BOISE - The creation of a state-based health insurance exchange is shaping up to be one of the most hotly debated issues in the upcoming Idaho Legislative session. But according to a new AARP Idaho survey of registered voters released this morning, there's little debate among Gem Staters on the issue. Many of those surveyed report difficulty paying for their health insurance and overwhelmingly support the creation of a state-based exchange that could get them a better deal and more options on rising insurance premiums.
The issue finds broad support from registered voters across all political parties, with 77% of Republicans backing the measure (78% for Democrats and 73% for Independents). Similar support is found regardless of political leanings, with 72% of registered voters who identify themselves as conservative supporting a state-based exchange (77% for liberals and 75% for moderates).
"When asked their opinions on a health insurance marketplace, citizens of the Gem State speak loud and clear. Idahoans want it. Idahoans need it," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "AARP will be working to make sure Idahoans get an exchange that puts consumers and business workers first."
The survey of Idaho registered voters ages 30 to 64; found that while most have health insurance (87%), paying for it is taking a harsh toll, causing many to make hard choices such as delaying getting a prescription filled (22%), cutting back on food, clothing and housing costs (33%), not seeing the doctor when they need to (40%). Health insurance is also driving career decisions, with the majority of those surveyed worrying that they won't be able to retire or change jobs due to the health care coverage they receive from their employer. Overall, 72% support the creation of a health insurance marketplace, such as the exchange would establish, while over 80% think it's important for Idaho to develop such a marketplace.
"Paying for health insurance isn't just causing some hardship for some Idahoans; it's forcing many to make unhealthy and dangerous choices that no one should ever have to make," said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. "Idaho has the opportunity to help tackle this issue our own way, using federal dollars to make it happen. Some at the statehouse may want to make this a political issue, but for most Idahoans, it's simply a kitchen table issue that needs to be addressed."
Other key findings from the AARP Idaho health care survey include:
· 50% of registered voters 30-64 say the health insurance marketplace should be overseen by a group of consumers, insurance companies, small businesses and government, 27% said a state agency should oversee it, with less than 10% stating a federal agency should take on the role.
· Nearly 90% of these Idahoans say it's important for the exchange to put the needs of individuals and small businesses before those of insurance companies.
· Over half of respondents without health insurance say their main reason for no coverage is because they can't afford it.
· 53% report difficulty in paying for their health insurance.
· A large majority (80%) of registered voters surveyed worry about having to pay more for health insurance, while 70% fear not being able to afford the health care services they may need.
· Over a third (35%) of these Idahoans who have employer health coverage worry their employer will drop their health insurance.
"Many of the struggles and concerns facing Idahoans when it comes to paying for health insurance will be addressed if we take the right, consumer-centered approach, to developing a state-based health insurance exchange," added Wordelman. "AARP looks forward to working with the Governor and state lawmakers to make sure Idaho gets the exchange right."
If states opt not to establish their own health insurance marketplaces, the federal government will run the marketplace for the state. The exchange can help individuals and small businesses get the same deal on health insurance costs as large businesses currently have.
The full survey can be found online at: http://bit.ly/wp5ABR