The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 13, 2013

Iowa projects competitive insurance prices

CATHERINE LUCEY
Associated Press

---- — DES MOINES — Premium prices on the state’s new health care marketplace will be lower in Iowa than on many other states’ exchanges, Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Thursday.

In a news release, Gerhart provided some of the first details on the expected premium prices in Iowa.

“We have had a chance to see the rates published for other states on national reports. It’s clear that for comparisons of similar plans, Iowa’s rates will continue to compare very favorably,” Gerhart said in the release.

The Insurance Division did not release complete pricing estimates, but offered a few examples. A mid-range — or silver — plan for a 40-year-old nonsmoker in central Iowa would cost about $219 each month before any income-based tax credits were applied. That price was lower than many of the projections for similar plans listed in a recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which looked at costs in the biggest city in 17 states, as well as the District of Columbia.

More detailed pricing information for Iowa should be released in the next week, said Insurance Division spokesman Tom Alger.

Six companies are set to participate in Iowa’s exchange, including two — CoOportunity Health and Coventry Health Care of Iowa, Inc. — that would offer coverage to individual buyers throughout the state. The other four companies will offer plans with regional limits or that apply only to group insurance.

“It’s nice to have the deal sealed and to have firm knowledge that Iowans will have these choices, starting next month. Iowa has traditionally enjoyed having both a much lower-than-average percentage of its population uninsured and an average cost for health insurance that has been among the lowest in the country,” Gerhart said.

Under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, states must have a health care exchange, with enrollment starting Oct. 1 and coverage on Jan. 1. Iowa is partnering with the federal government for the exchange, where customers will be able to shop for coverage and qualify for subsidies and benefits.