Iowans who don’t have access to employer-sponsored health coverage and must purchase their own will soon have a new option. Farm Bureau Health Plan will start taking applications for coverage on November 1, 2018.
During the 2018 legislative session, the Iowa legislature passed a law, signed by Governor Reynolds, which enabled the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) to provide an underwritten health benefit plan to its members. Farm Bureau Health Benefit Plan, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, will provide these plans.
Farm Bureau Health Plan will appeal to Iowans who don’t qualify for tax credits (also known as subsidies) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For those individuals, rates for the plans will generally be much lower than comparable ACA plans. It is worth noting that a significant majority of current ACA members receive tax credits which significantly reduces their cost and makes those ACA plans a more cost-effective option.
Farm Bureau Health Plan will offer three different plan designs, including two traditional plans with copays, coinsurance, and deductibles. The third plan is a high deductible health plan that offers members the opportunity to fund a Health Savings Account (HSA).
All three plans will provide comprehensive coverage including maternity, mental health and substance abuse, prescription drugs, and no-cost preventive benefits to members. To be eligible, applicants must be an Iowa Farm Bureau member living in the state, and not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or an employer group health plan.
The plan designs will look similar to current ACA compliant plans in the market, with three primary exceptions. First, applicants must pass underwriting to qualify for enrollment. Second, because they are underwritten, plans will be available for purchase throughout the year rather than only during specific enrollment periods. Lastly, the plans will have a $3 million lifetime benefit maximum per covered individual.
“According to our membership survey, healthcare coverage is the number one concern facing our members,” says Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President. “Although this may not be a solution for all, the Farm Bureau Health Plan may be an option for thousands who need an affordable plan that provides them comprehensive, renewable health coverage.”