BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal officials say approximately 15,000 Idahoans may be eligible for tax credits if they purchase insurance through the state's health care exchange rather than skip the marketplace again while picking 2017 coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week that only residents who bought their 2017 plans on the Your Health Idaho website are qualified for a tax subsidy. Health officials say the tax credits were designed to make coverage more affordable and protect consumers from the impact of rate increases.

The HHS report released Tuesday doesn't estimate how much help these shoppers might receive if they used the exchanges. It also didn't delve into why they shopped outside the exchanges. The annual enrollment window for 2017 individual coverage begins Nov. 1.

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