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Iowa Hospital Association Warns Iowa Not To Lose Gains Made Under ACA

*Insurance carriers have until June 19, 2017 to decide whether to sell individual insurance policies in 2018.

The Iowa Hospital Association says it’s important not to lose the gains made under the Affordable Care Act. The warning comes after the insurance carriers Aetna and Wellmark announced this week that in 2018, they’ll stop selling individual policies on Iowa’s healthcare exchange created under the ACA.

Insurance carriers have cited market instability and rising costs as reasons to leave healthcare exchanges. However, the IHA argues companies could be doing more to make Obamacare work by finding ways to diversify their customer bases so that insurance pools contain greater numbers of younger, healthier people.

"It’s difficult to be specific," says IHA's Scott McIntyre. "But the insurance industry, is just seems there’s a tendency to be focused on the bottom line rather than just creating value and finding ways to make it easier for people to buy into their products."

McIntrye adds that the federal government also should be working with insurance carriers to find ways to make the ACA succeed.

Often hospitals end up paying the bills of uninsured patients. If the number of uninsured Iowans increases, McIntyre says this in turn increases fees for insured patients. He says it may also cause hospitals to hire fewer people, or stop providing services like free immunizations and screenings. 

Now that Wellmark and Aetna have dropped out, Minnesota-based Medica is the sole carrier for individual insurance policies in 94 of Iowa's 99 counties. The company has until June 19 to decide if it will stay in Iowa or follow Wellmark and Aetna's leads.