The Road Not Traveled: How Policy, Business Decisions in Iowa Led to Higher Premiums

By Sabrina Corlette and Kevin Lucia

This year, Iowa’s legislature took the extraordinary step of abdicating the state’s authority to regulate health insurance products. The bill, enacted in April, exempts health plans offered by the state’s Farm Bureau from state and federal insurance regulation, including Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions designed to protect people with preexisting conditions and provide a minimum standard of benefits.

Iowa’s Farm Bureau statute is making a bad situation worse for the state’s individual market. Thanks to a number of decisions by state policymakers and the dominant insurance company – Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield – premiums in the state’s individual market are higher than they otherwise would have been, and enrollment in the state’s marketplace has lagged other states’ performance.

In their latest blog post for the Commonwealth Fund’s To the Point blog, CHIR’s Sabrina Corlette and Kevin Lucia team up with actuaries at Wakely Consulting Group to assess what premiums and marketplace enrollment would have been if Iowa had chosen a different path. To read the full post, visit here.

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