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Iowans Buying Own Health Insurance To Have More Options In 2019

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This year, only one insurance company provided coverage in Iowa under the Affordable Care Act.

Iowans who buy their own health insurance will have more options for coverage under the Affordable Care Act next year, but the price of that coverage is still unclear.

Insurance premiums for plans under the Affordable Care Act spiked this year when only one company agreed to sell insurance in the state. That company is Medica, and it’s proposing more plan options for next year.

“In 2018 there were a lot of people who just had one product choice, so we’re excited to be able to offer more choices in terms of plan and network design to consumers than we were able to this year,” said Geoff Bartsh, a vice president at Medica.

Wellmark will also re-enter Iowa’s ACA insurance market in 2019, according to a spokesperson.

Bartsh said it’s good for consumers to have more choices.

“We also think it’s a good sign of a market altogether when consumers have competition,” Bartsh said. “I would anticipate over the next couple years the Iowa market will hopefully see an additional carrier or two come back in.”

Two major insurance companies, Aetna and Wellmark, didn’t sell ACA-compliant individual insurance in 2018.

Bartsh declined to discuss what rate increases, if any, Medica will seek for 2019. A big increase in premiums for 2018 led to thousands of Iowans dropping their individual insurance coverage.

According to a Medica spokesperson, about 45,000 Iowans have ACA-compliant plans through Medica. About 85 percent of them receive federal subsidies to help pay their premiums.

There could also be additional health plan options outside of the Affordable Care Act next year, but regulators are still working out the details. A new law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds allows the Iowa Farm Bureau and Wellmark to develop health plans that don’t follow federal health law regulations.

Medica previously said the company was looking into legal action against the state because of this, but Bartsh said Friday Medica doesn’t “have any plans to take legal action at this time.”

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter