Iowa’s Prescription for Affordable Health Insurance

January 1, 2010

Iowapolitics.com published a press release highlighting results of an AARP survey results stating that overwhelming support for affordable health insurance. Almost 87% said that they want affordable health care and 55% said they would afford a candidate who would promote this cause.  The Iowa survey results matched other national surveys in that 63% of respondents felt that the government should do more to provide health insurance for children, yet other surveys show that these CHIP programs may not be doing the job.

The Controversial Issues

The AARP survey highlighted did not touch on the more sensitive areas in other recent public opinion surveys like those reported by The Kaiser Foundation last month. Americans are not convinced that everyone should be required to carry health insurance by law and most of us do not want the government to subsidize the cost of health insurance for uninsured adults. The Kaiser Foundation found less than 50% support for government subsidies or tax incentives for health insurance. So if we do not want to require health insurance and we do not want to   

Current Affordable Health Insurance Plans In Iowa

The most popular affordable health insurance plans in Iowa are Core Health Insurance, Basic Health Insurance, Secure STM, Celtic Basic and Celtic Short Term Medical and American Health Shield. All of these can be used with any doctor or hospital of your choice in Iowa and also provide equal coverage nationwide without the risks of reduced benefits for going out-of-network.

Core Health Insurance policies offer four different levels of universal health coverage to allow a buyer to match the benefit level with the dollar amount of the premium they can afford. For example, a $100 monthly premium might buy only $500 of hospital coverage per day and a $200 monthly premium could purchase $1,000 per day of hospital coverage. Payment of benefits may be assigned directly to the medical provider.

Basic Health Insurance from Markel Insurance. This is also a universal health plan, but as he name implies, this provides coverage for the most common medical expenses with doctor's visits and lab charges but does not provide coverage for catastrophic expenses. This policy provides payment to the insured so that the cash may be used to offset medical expenses.  

Secure STM from Standard Security Life of New York is a short term major medical policy that can be extended for up to three years. Since more than 98% of those who buy health insurance switch health plans in less than two years, this three year option provides liberal coverage for the majority, yet costs about 40% less than regular major medical coverage. Unlike many low cost health insurance, this is a full major medical policy that provides for all ordinary and necessary medical expenses.

Celtic Basic and Celtic Short Term Medical. Celtic Insurance is quickly rising as the premier private health insurance for affluent healthy people nationwide, especially for those who wish to use a health savings account. While the policy may cover some minor pre-existing medical conditions, the requirements for eligibility are strict and this helps keep rates low for the long term. This is really a preferred risk health insurance plan.

American Health Shield is the perennial favorite of college students nationwide due to its simple design and comprehensive coverage, but can only be obtained for one semester at a time.

Overall, Iowa residents have more affordable health insurance than many other states and more plans are expected to be introduced in coming months.

Legislative Recommendation : Do's and Don't for the Iowa Legislature

Do take immediate action to pave the way to introduce the low cost health plans from United Healthcare and Golden Rule Insurance that offer affordable coverage to millions in other states. Iowa insurance regulators presently do not allow Iowans to use these money-saving plans to its own residents. Collectively, these two companies are doing more to transform the development of innovative low cost affordable health insurance plans than the rest of the U.S. market combined. A simple change to insurance department procedures would financially benefit thousands of Iowans at no cost to taxpayers.

Do adapt a consumer education to make consumers aware of the various health plan choices available to them. These programs can help consumers distinguish among the various types of health insurance and help identify those that are not appropriate in their specific situation. This program should include a provision that some health plans like federal COBRA and HIPAA for those with serious medical conditions that are very expensive and require a change in lifestyle in order to make health care the #1 financial priority.

Do expand outreach efforts for the children's health insurance program and monitor results.

Do realize that none of the proposed legislation, nor any of the current or proposed health insurance programs address the underlying issue of health care cost inflation. The real social issue of placing a dollar value limitation on human health still lies ahead of us. Meanwhile, our ability to provide health care will continue to outpace our ability to pay for it.

Do not require adults to buy health insurance. The United States is still a nation that embraces individual freedom.

Do not restrict the availability of the nation' most popular low cost health plans in Iowa . Be among the first of the states to approve distribution of the new affordable health plans to be introduced by many health insurers over the next two years.

Do not increase funding for children's health insurance until there is evidence that the percentage of insurance can be significantly increased. (Additional funding has not produced increased enrollment in other states).

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