Health Care and the Individual Insurance Market
Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer also serves as the Chair of the ALEC Center to Restore the Balance of Government
Iowa once had a stable and affordable health insurance market. Premiums were low, consumers had several choices, and our uninsured rate was lower than the national average. We also had a functioning high-risk pool for those individuals who could not obtain insurance through private companies. Following the enactment of Obamacare and its mandates, Iowa’s market has collapsed. Many predicted this disaster at the outset, and now hard-working Iowans are faced with skyrocketing premiums and a lack of health care options.
Last year, Iowa made national headlines when two of the three statewide health insurance carriers announced that they would no longer be participating in the individual insurance marketplace. This left 72,000 Iowans with just one choice for health insurance, and to make matters worse, premiums would be increasing by 43-56 percent.
Iowa’s unfortunate story is similar to many other states.
In an effort to stabilize Iowa’s insurance market, our state Insurance Commissioner put together a temporary solution, known as the “Stopgap Measure,” that would have given Iowans an option for health coverage. This plan was required to receive federal approval from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Unfortunately, due to the inflexibility of Obamacare and the Feds, Iowa was forced to withdraw the Stopgap plan.
Obamacare is a disaster and it is failing countless Americans across the country. The states can no longer wait for Congress to reform health care. It is time for states to act and do what they can to provide their citizens with affordable and accessible health coverage.
In my opening day speech to the Iowa House in January, I made it clear that I wanted legislators to look for opportunities to provide Iowans with more health options at an affordable price. After studying potential solutions, we are moving forward with legislation that allows qualifying organizations to sell health benefit plans, providing Iowans with a lower cost alternative to traditional health insurance. These plans work similarly to traditional health insurance, providing necessary coverage, but come at nearly half the cost.
Idaho is proceeding with a bold plan that moves their state back to their pre-Obamacare system. We will be watching Idaho closely, as will many other states.
States are no longer waiting for Congress to take action on health care. Many states are already moving forward, like Iowa, with solutions that work for their states and citizens. Congress created this mess with a top-down, one-size-fits-all plan that was destined for failure. However, they can be part of the solution by providing states with more flexibility and freedom in how health care is managed and delivered.
States need to act and Washington, DC shouldn’t stand in the way.