Republicans couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, but that didn’t stop them from attempting to dismantle it on a state level. In Iowa, with a combination of new state laws and federal regulations, spearheaded by the Republicans, they are transforming the insurance markets into something more to the Republican’s liking – markets full of cheap plans with severe limitations that are only available to people in good health.
There are options available, already being put to use in other states, that will fix the issues with Obamacare, but the Republicans in some states, like Iowa, remain uninterested in those.
‘SHALL NOT BE DEEMED INSURANCE’
Last week, Iowan Governor, Republican Kim Reynolds, signed a law that will allow the Iowa Farm Bureau to sell health insurance plans that, in many ways, resemble other health insurance policies.
Blue Cross Blue Shield’s affiliate Wellmark will administer the new policies.
The legislation states, however, that the new plans, “shall not be deemed Insurance.” You see, to be able to skirt the law, legislators want to ensure that the new policies are not subject to the Affordable Care Act’s regulations so they can’t call it insurance.
Otherwise, under the Affordable Care Act, those pesky buggers with pre-existing conditions like cancer can get coverage, and Republicans don’t want that.
The biggest problem with the new statutes is that now Wellmark will be able to jack up the premiums or refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions, much like insurance companies were able to do before the ACA became law.
On top of that, the plan sponsors will be able to exclude benefits that the ACA considers “essential,” such as treatment for mental illnesses, maternity care, and prescription drugs.
If Wellmark decides to place lifetime limits, they can do that as well.
Some people are understandably frustrated with Obamacare, but they fail to recognize that, at its core, it’s a workable plan when executed properly, as is evident in states like Alaska and Minnesota.
What happens in many states is that without enough people on the rolls, premiums for customers who make too much to qualify for financial aid are far too high. Insurance companies hike up prices to compensate for the fewer sign-ups.
Instead of offering shameful plans that will destabilize the market like in Iowa, however, there is another way.
In Alaska and Minnesota, state officials there designed a “reinsurance” pool. The idea was to refund the insurance carriers for their most expensive-to-cover beneficiaries to drive down premiums and it’s working.
Just last week officials in Wisconsin announced they are going to try the same thing.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
As always, all one really needs to do to figure out how this is all happening is to follow the money.
Wellmark and Blue Cross Blue Shield didn’t spend a dime on lobbying until 2008. Then, starting immediately after former President Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, it spent $550,000 on lobbying effort, and it hasn’t stopped since.
From 2008 to 2012 Wellmark spent $1,080,000 on lobbying efforts and, in Iowa at least, it appears to be working.
As long as the Affordable Care Act stays on the books, millions of low-income Americans will continue to receive health insurance benefits under the law. Especially in states like Alaska, where lawmakers are making an effort.
However, in other parts of the country, like Iowa, people attempting to insure themselves will find things much like they were before Obamacare – as long as you stay healthy, it will take care of you fine.
Here’s hoping you stay healthy, however, because these non-insurance type plans are not for people who are actually sick.
Featured Image Via Pixabay.