Need Help with Health Insurance Options?

The Affordable Care Act impacts Iowan’s access to and use of healthcare systems and insurance policies.  Individuals and families, who have insurance through their employer, the private market or through public programs, as well as those without insurance, are all affected in various ways. 
 
Most Iowan’s will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty on their 2014 taxes.  Open enrollment under the new health insurance system continues until March 31, so NOW is the time to get enrolled if you need health insurance.  After March 31 most people must wait to buy health insurance until November when they can purchase insurance for 2015. 
 
If you need assistance with enrollment there is help available.   In Southwest Iowa, you can get in touch with a Navigator by contacting the call center for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland at 877-811-7526 or Visiting Nurse Services at 515-288-1516.  If you prefer to work with an independent insurance agent or broker call the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa at 800-272-9312. 
 
For adults age 19-64 with income up to and including 133% of the federal poverty level, the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan is available.  For more information, contact the Iowa Department of Human Services call center at 855-889-7985.
 
Consumers can also receive information and enroll in health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.govor by calling 800-318-2596. All health insurance plans in the marketplace cover the same ten essential health benefits – hospitalization, prescriptions, mental health care, and more.  All plans in the marketplace also offer free preventive care, with no co-payments or deductibles.  And no one can be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. In the new health insurance marketplace, consumers can choose from health insurance plans that are designated as bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.  What’s different from one plan to another is how the cost is split between the consumer and the health insurance company. 
 
To make health insurance more affordable, tax credits and subsidies are available for many Iowans’ who obtain insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Premium Tax Credits lower the cost of health insurance premiums for those with income up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.  For a family of four, this means if their income is below $94,200 they may qualify for the credit.  Another subsidy called Cost-Sharing Reductions is available for consumers with income below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level.  These benefits lower the costs of co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles.
 
And another piece of helpful information is that a plan chosen now does not lock you into that plan for future years – each year you can choose insurance based on your current health care needs and finances. 
 
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is conducting programs and outreach across the state of Iowa to help Iowan’s make informed health insurance decisions.  If you were unable to attend one of their recent workshops on Making a Smart Choice about Health Insurance, contact the Montgomery County Extension office at 400 Bridge Street in Red Oak or phone: 623-2592 to receive a packet of information.   

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