A: The Iowa Health Insurance Marketplace officially opened on Oct. 1. The 2014 “open enrollment,” or sign-up period, runs from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2014.
The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate gives two choices — have minimum essential healthcare coverage or pay a tax penalty. The Iowa Health Insurance Marketplace provides individuals with a place to purchase affordable minimum essential coverage.
Anyone can use the Marketplace for purchasing insurance. It is also the place where eligibility for programs such as Medicaid, Iowa Health and Wellness and HAWK-I can be determined. Available tax credits and cost-sharing subsidy eligibility is also done here. However, these have certain income guidelines and may not be available to everyone.
For central Iowans there are currently two companies on the marketplace. Both offer insurance plans labeled Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Catastrophic plans are also available. While plans are labeled the same, there are coverage and premium differences. There are certain benefit requirements, but plans can vary, and they are able to dictate what providers and facilities are included with any given plan. The least expensive plans will most likely have limited provider options. When reviewing available options, look closely at provider lists to make sure coverage is available with current providers and facilities where medical care is provided on a routine basis.
Most importantly, there is only one website with official information about all exchanges and only one 800 number to call. Watch out for fraud. For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.
Information provided by Greene County Medical Center, 515-386-2114. Jefferson through an Iowa Insurance Division presentation in conjunction with Iowa Hospital Association.