Iowa Drafts Plan to Save State Individual Insurance Market

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While Obamacare repeal stalls in the Senate, Iowa hopes to implement a plan that could save individual health insurance in the state.

Iowa officials continue to work with the White House to bend Obamacare regulations to make the laws more sustainable. White House staffers hope to tweak Obamacare regulations within the states to make the individual health care market more sustainable.

State officials hope to take emergency action to ensure that 72,000 Iowans do not lose their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces.

Breitbart News reported that Medica remains the only major health insurer selling Obamacare plans in most Iowa counties and has yet to decide whether it will exit the state’s Obamacare exchange.

Aetna and Wellmark announced they would stop selling individual plans next year, although they signaled that they could return to the state’s individual market if Iowa’s enacts their proposal.

In an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, Wellmark’s chairman and CEO John Forsyth explained the changes Wellmark would require to stay in the Iowa exchange. Changes would have to include: offering incentives for maintaining continuous health insurance coverage, limiting the special enrollment periods, offering financial help based on income and age, offering reinsurance, and allowing health insurers to offer more flexible low-cost health insurance plans.

The Iowa Republican proposal would trim down the Obamacare insurance plans to one plan similar to the ACA’s “silver” level plan, balancing cost and coverage. Iowa would tie Obamacare subsidies for lower-income Americans to purchase health insurance to age and income, which contrasts from the House-passed bill which would offer flat, age-based tax credits. Individual health insurance consumers could also purchase plans created outside of the state’s Obamacare exchange. The new Iowa proposal would also mandate that individual insurance consumers would have to maintain coverage throughout the year, and cannot miss a gap of insurance coverage longer than 63 days. The proposal would also retain Obamacare’s essential health benefits and implement a reinsurance program to limit the cost of health insurer’s most expensive enrollees.

Forsyth and Iowa officials met with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) chief Seema Verma and received positive feedback regarding Iowa’s new proposal. A CMS spokeswoman said that the agency could not comment on the proposal until CMS makes a final decision.

A Medica spokesman said that the health insurer was delighted by the Iowa proposal. The spokesman said, “We are familiar with the proposal and appreciate [the Iowa Insurance Division] working with interested carriers for input.”

Iowa could serve as a model for several other states to follow with vital changes to Obamacare to save the individual marketplace. Forty-five counties across Missouri, Ohio, and Washington could go without Obamacare insurance plans in their state exchanges in 2018. Alaska seeks a federal waiver from President Donald Trump to stabilize their insurance market, although, Iowa’s proposal enacts more sweeping changes.

As Senate Republicans keep their draft health legislation secret until it receives a Congressional Budget Office analysis, the CMS announced that two million Americans dropped out of Obamacare since signing up in January.

 

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