NPR Story
6:09 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

High Enrollment In A State With No Love For Obamacare

The latest figures on who's signing up under the federal health care law tell a surprising story about one of the most conservative states in the country.

Even though Idaho politicians regularly condemn Obamacare, Idahoans are signing up at one of the highest per capita rates in the country – second only to Vermont.

This should give you an idea of how Obamacare plays in Idaho. Republican Gov. Butch Otter, who staunchly opposed the Affordable Care Act, faces a primary challenge from a Republican lawmaker who says the governor didn't oppose it enough.

Yet the state-run insurance exchange that Otter and the Legislature authorized, called Your Health Idaho, had successfully enrolled nearly 33,000 people by the beginning of February.

Managers attribute it in part to public outreach efforts, including more than 100 meetings and sign-up events across the state.

At a sign-up open house in Coeur d'Alene, gas station cashier Crystal Librande came to see if she could find a plan with a better provider network.

"That's why I'm here – to figure out what's going on and how to go about it and what's the best plan I can go for I guess," Librande said. "See what Obamacare has to offer."

Another reason Idaho may be seeing more Obamacare sign-ups is that it chose not to take federal dollars to expand Medicaid like other states did.

In sheer numbers, Washington and Oregon have enrolled more people than Idaho - although not by much in Oregon, which at last report had just under 34,000 signed up.

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