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State health insurance board launches website

state health insurance exchange board launches website

POCATELLO, Idaho - Today the Idaho Health Care Insurance Board is launching its website for the first time five weeks ahead of its October 1 deadline.

The website,, will allow everyone in the state to look at the more than 80 health insurance plans that will be available on the exchange.

Chairman of the board Stephen Weeg, said there will be assisters, or navigators, available to help guide consumers through the website before giving them information to find a proper broker or insurance agent.

"Most people who are assisters do not have a wealth of insurance experience and so we are counting on agents and brokers to fill that role," Weeg said.

These navigators will be chosen from various established community organizations such as hospitals and community health centers, since they have knowledge of the area and the brokers they will be partnering with.

While these state-based navigators act more as a guide, leading consumers through the hard facts of what they need to know when it comes to searching through the website, the story is a bit different on a federal level.

Weeg said this will most likely open-up a new market for licensed brokers.

University Financial Group CEO and President Lance Kolbet said he is noticing a big decrease in the number of brokers, since the federal exchange does not regulate the practice of licensed assistance in the same way the state-based exchange does.

He said, under the federal health insurance exchange plan, anyone can take a four-hour course and be allowed to help consumers find an insurance plan.

These federally-based navigators are not licensed. This means, they can mislead consumers and not be held accountable.

"Then you take a broker who is held to a much higher standard and the brokers are going to look at this and go, 'nuh uh. I'm done,'" Kolbet said.

He feels this de-legitimizes the system, more or less.

"I do not want my adviser or the person helping - I do not want them getting it wrong. I do not want to find out there was a better way."

The Idaho Health Insurance Exchange Board noticed this as a problem and noted this system would not work for Idahoans.

"It makes a difference when you have local control. So that is one of the reasons why we are staying on a state-based exchange and not part of a federal marketplace," Weeg said.

For more information on how the Affordable Care Act will impact employers, visit our story here:

For more information on what you need to know about the state's healthcare insurance exchange program, visit our story here:

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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