TWIN FALLS — Need health insurance? The enrollment period for Idaho’s state health insurance exchange starts today.

Open enrollment on Your Health Idaho runs through Jan. 31. People who want their coverage to start on Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15 to avoid any lapses in coverage.

Premiums for Affordable Care Act insurance are going up throughout the country, and the increases in Idaho are roughly in line with what is being seen elsewhere. The state Department of Insurance announced in September that rates for the average individual plan would be going up by 24 percent, and by 4 percent for the average small group plan.

However, nearly 90 percent of the roughly 95,000 people insured through Your Health Idaho receive a tax credit that covers an average of 70 percent of the premium cost, cushioning the blow of any rate increases. For example, the average premium for a 35-year-old receiving a tax credit will go up by $2 a month if they are enrolled in the second lowest cost silver plan, Your Health Idaho said in a statement.

YHI customers will have more plans to choose from this time — 225, compared with 211 that were available this year. Your Health Idaho Executive Director Pat Kelly expects a 3 to 5 percent growth in enrollment for 2017, bringing the number of people insured through the state exchange to more than 100,000. One silver lining to the premium increases, Kelly said, is that people who might not have qualified for the tax credits before might now as a result.

Kelly said finding affordable health insurance may not be as tricky as people think.

“We think people will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable health insurance can be once they take into account the tax credit,” Kelly said.

Existing customers will have their coverage automatically renewed but can make changes during open enrollment.

For more information, including to estimate how much you might pay for insurance, information on the plans that are available and help to find an agent or broker in your area, visit yourhealthidaho.org.

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