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Iowans who buy their health insurance through the "Obamacare" health insurance exchange are facing a 58% increase in premiums.  Only one company (Medica) continues to offer policies on the exchange to Iowans, and they say rates have to increase because they have lost money on these plans, and they are not sure that Congress will continue to provide the Obamacare subsidies that help them provide coverage to 72,000 Iowans.

Iowa's Insurance Commissioner (David Ommen) has asked the federal government to allow Iowa to use federal subsidies to make changes that will keep premiums down and potentially lure Wellmark back into the exchange, so Iowans have affordable choices.  This "Stop Gap Plan" uses existing state programs to help offset costs, so insurers like Medica do not have to worry about high-cost claims breaking the bank and making it impossible to keep premiums stable.  

Officials with the Insurance Division said the "Stop Gap" health coverage sold to consumers during the 2018 open enrollment period will be guaranteed issue, include all of the Affordable Care Act's Essential Health Benefits and any additional benefits required by Iowa law, and will protect consumers from annual and lifetime caps.

While Ommen asked the federal government to make its decision in July, the state is still waiting for an answer.  At the Administrative Rules Review Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 12, Ommen said he is "a lot less optimistic" about federal approval for the plan, but he will continue to move forward as if the plan were approved.  He is doing this because they are under a time crunch to get this done - open enrollment for 2018 plans starts November 1, 2017 and ends December 15, 2017.   Watch the website for alerts: