Iowa lawmakers move to allow health plans that skirt ObamaCare rules

Iowa lawmakers move to allow health plans that skirt ObamaCare rules
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State lawmakers in Iowa are moving to allow the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to offer health insurance plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare protections.

Two bills moving through the state legislature aim to provide Farm Bureau members with plans that cost much less than plans that are currently available on Iowa’s individual market.

But since the plans will be exempt from ObamaCare protections, people with pre-existing conditions could be charged more.  

According to the Des Moines Register, the proposal calls for the Iowa Farm Bureau to partner with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to offer “benefit plans.” The plans would not be subject to state or federal insurance regulations, which critics say drive up the cost of health care for younger, healthier people.

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The proposal is modeled after a similar plan in Tennessee, in which the state’s farm bureau offers plans that exclude anyone with pre-existing conditions, and charges more for different health indicators, such as age and tobacco use.

Despite ObamaCare’s prohibitions on those policies, the Tennessee Farm Bureau can still sell those plans because under Tennessee law, it’s technically not considered an insurance company and thus not subject to insurance regulation or oversight.

But opponents of the legislation say it will drive up costs for older people with pre-existing conditions, undermine ObamaCare and destabilize the state’s shaky health insurance market.

Iowa is not the only state attempting to skirt ObamaCare’s regulations. Idaho’s Republican Gov. Butch Otter recently signed an executive order to allow insurers to sell plans that don't meet ObamaCare requirements.

Democrats say the order is illegal and have called on the Department of Health and Human Services to intervene.