Alternative plans undermine care for Iowans
Health plans like the ones authorized to be sold by the Iowa Farm Bureau next year will likely be inadequate and unaffordable for many Iowa farmers and farm workers and will do more harm than good, according to a new report from the DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
In fact, the vast majority of Iowa farmers and farm workers struggling to find health coverage have incomes that likely make them eligible either for Medicaid or for subsidies to help them afford good-quality insurance through the ACA marketplace -- but they may need more information or help with enrolling.
An Iowa law passed this spring allows the Farm Bureau to offer health plans that are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s benefit standards and consumer protections, as well as state and federal insurance rule
Plans like these, with premiums affordable to people with lower incomes, are likely to offer extremely limited coverage, leaving anyone who buys them exposed to high costs if they experience an illness or injury.
They are also expected to increase premiums for middle-income people who want or need more comprehensive coverage in Iowa’s individual insurance market. A farmer who enrolls in a comprehensive individual-market plan will likely see higher premiums over time, as healthier people abandon the individual market in favor of skimpy plans and leave behind a sicker and costlier group of enrollees.
“To truly help farm families, Iowa policymakers should focus on helping more people enroll in comprehensive coverage they may already be eligible for through Medicaid or the Marketplace, while also making premiums more affordable in the state’s individual insurance market,” said Mary Nelle Trefz, health policy associate at the Child and Family Policy Center. “An approach like that would maintain consumer protections and access to adequate coverage for people who work in agriculture, without further harming Iowa’s insurance market and the people who depend on it.”
Read more about the problems with skimpy plans on our blog.