INTERVIEW: Local insurance agent discusses future of Idaho’s healthcare exchange

Photo Courtesy: Parker Insurance

David Parker is a local insurance agent based out of Rexburg, Idaho. He spoke with Neal Larson on KID Newsradio about speculated 2019 insurance rates, why insurance and healthcare costs continue to rise, the future of an Idaho executive order aimed at created an alternative health insurance market and the legislature’s attempt to pass a healthcare bill.

Editor’s Note: David Parker is a frequent advertiser on KID Newsradio.

Listen to the full interview below:




IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Healthcare is back in the headlines as rumors the 2019 insurance rates are going to increase exponentially.

“Over the last several of years we’ve seen medical inflation increasing pretty significantly,” Parker said. “Some of the pushing that are…prescription drug costs. Prescription drug costs have gone up a huge part, at least, probably about half of what the insurance companies pay out now as to prescription costs…The other one is medical costs are increasing significantly.”

David Parker, local insurance agent and owner of Parker Insurance in Rexburg, says several things have contributed to the increase in prices.

“Some of the things Obamacare did that pushed those costs up is we used to have a limit,” Parker said. “So our policies, the maximum they’d pay out on your life was $1 million. Obamacare did away with that, now there can be no limit to what an Obamacare policy pays.”

Idaho Governor Butch Otter and Lieutenant Governor Brad Little recently signed an executive order creating an alternative market of non-Obamacare improve plans, but Parker says the future of that market may be in doubt.

“Director Dean Cameron, he’s the Director of the Idaho Department of Insurance…he and I think Brad Little went with him, they had to go back to Washington D.C. and meet with Center for Medicare Services,” Parker said. “Center for Medicare Services, which kind of helps run all of this, told them ‘Knock it off. We need you to come up with something that’s going to meet their guidelines.’ They didn’t tell them absolutely no, but I think they kind of gave them rules as to what they were looking for and these non-Affordable Care Act compliant plans were not going to fly.”

Parker said the response from the Center for Medicare Services means Idaho is going “back to the drawing board,” but he says he doesn’t expect government officials will stop trying to find a way to make the plan work.

“I don’t think they’re going to give up on trying to come up with something,” Parker said. “But, as far as presenting a plan that is underwritten, that doesn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act…they’re kind of tabled for right now.”

The executive order hasn’t been Idaho’s only attempt at changing how healthcare works in the Gem state. In the most recent legislative session, lawmakers heard a bill that would have created a “state high risk pool” of insurance recipients and cost the state $100 million.

“The Idaho Legislature also was working on a bill that said, let’s create this state high risk pool and let’s let them off on this other plan and that didn’t pass,” Parker said. “They couldn’t guarantee these new underwritten plans would 20 percent less than what Affordable Care Act plans are and that was kind of one of the legislator’s hanging points.”

But, Parker said all of these efforts just scratch the surface and fail to address a much larger problem.

“As I look at all this pricing and what’s going on, very few things have ever addressed the real problem” Parker said. “The real problem is medical costs are going through the roof. You go back through society and you see where the biggest amounts of money are spent and I think over 30 percent of our U.S. economy is medical costs right now.”

Part of the problem, Parker said, is there is no limit to what healthcare providers can charge.

“Therein lies the problem,” Parker said. “There is no bar and transparency as far as what is medical costs, costing? If you were going to go out and purchase something that cost $36,000, would you spend some time researching it and negotiating the price? Can you do that with your healthcare? If you call the hospital and say what is this service going to cost me, you’ll be really lucky to get a ballpark.”