Other than ‘invincibles,’ Iowa health care insurance plans reaching target groups

Complete enrollment picture may not be clear for two years

James Q. Lynch
Published: January 28 2014 | 1:52 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:46 am in

State officials believe they are reaching their target for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, but say it may be two years before they see a complete enrollment picture.

More than 61,000 Iowans now are enrolled in the new health care coverage plans offered by the state and federal government. The bulk of them, however, were auto-enrolled when the state replaced its IowaCare program with the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, Jennifer Vermeer of the Department of Human Services told legislators Tuesday.

Another 11,161 have enrolled in the marketplace choice plan, she said. That total is well short of the actuarial projection of 140,000 Iowa enrollees before the end of the year. That’s the number of Iowans “potentially eligible,” she said, based on a variety of factors.

Data from the previous week showed 58,705 enrollees with 50,186 among those auto-enrolled from IowaCare. Of those, 42,000 were enrolled in the state health and wellness plan and 8,000 were enrolled in the Iowa Marketplace Choice Plan, Vermeer said.

Among the 8.518 new to Medicaid or previously not covered by IowaCare, 5,100 were enrolled in some type of Medicaid last year while the other 3,400 were not, she said.

Neither Vermeer of Iowa Insurance Division Commissioner Nick Gerhart could tell lawmakers is how many of those enrollees did not have health care coverage before the ACA and the state health and wellness plans were implemented.

“That’s a data element not gathered” on the application forms, Vermeer said.

However, she said, “We’re adding a lot of people to health care coverage, more than otherwise would be covered.”

Iowa’s uninsured rate was low, she said, because of IowaCare, a limited-benefit health care program, offered coverage to people who otherwise would not have been insured.

Prior to the ACA – Obamacare, about 87 percent of Iowans, including those in IowaCare, had health care coverage. The goal is that by 2016, that will be up to 95 percent, Gerhart said.

One area where enrollment appears to be falling short of expectations is among the so-called “invincibles” – 18-34 year-olds, Gerhart said. About 22 percent of the enrollees are among the healthy, young adult population who are not expected to incur as many health care expenses as older enrollees. That’s slightly less than the national average of 24 percent and significantly less than the “sweet spot” of 37 percent to 40 percent, he said.

More enrollment data can be found at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/SF/2014/24681/24681.pdf.

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