Premiums for individual insurance rose 57 percent last year, blamed on Affordable Care Act regulations.
The law, Senate File 2349, will allow Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield to partner with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to sell a new type of health policy. The bill defines the new coverage as not technically being health insurance. It won’t be regulated by the Iowa Insurance Division and it won’t have to comply with rules under the Affordable Care Act.
For example, Wellmark and the Farm Bureau could deny coverage to applicants if they have pre-existing health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of cancer. Such denials have generally been banned since 2014 by the ACA. The bill also would let Wellmark and the Farm Bureau delete some types of benefits, such as maternity or mental health care, from the new coverage.
Supporters say the bill should provide an option for consumers who need individual insurance policies but who make too much money to qualify for ACA marketplace subsidies to help pay premiums. For a single person, the annual income limit for those subsidies is about $48,000.
Critics say it would be unfair to exempt the Farm Bureau and Wellmark from government regulations but require all other carriers to follow them.
The Des Moines Register quotes Larry Levitt, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation:
What Iowa is doing is part of a pattern of states looking for ways to get around ACA rules and offer cheaper insurance to people — at least to healthy people.
Read more about how the unique partnership will function in The Des Moines Register
Iowa Public Radio reports Rose Danaher is a Farm Bureau member who raises cattle on a farm just north of the Amana Colonies. She lost her health insurance last year when Iowa’s individual marketplace collapsed.
As most of you have heard, those of us that lost our plans really had one option remaining for health care coverage. I don’t mind paying more than my fair share to help stabilize the marketplace, but there’s no reason a healthy 32-year-old should be paying more for health insurance than for her mortgage.
In signing comments Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said:
I have urged Congress to fix this problem, but … we’re done waiting. Because of this bill, thousands of Iowans will now have affordable health-care coverage.
The new law in Iowa could provide the path forward for Republican-led states that are looking for ways around the ACA’s rules and regulations, according to The Hill.