So the Obamacare Exchanges are now up and running – what do I need to know?

So what’s up with buying health insurance starting October 1 on the new Health Insurance Exchange (or “Marketplace”)? In Iowa, depending on what county (and Region) you live in, there will be up to four insurance companies to choose from (there are two in Cass County). Here are some questions that might help you figure out if the Exchange is right for you.


Question: What do I have to do starting October 1?

Answer: Nothing, if you already have health insurance through work or from an individual plan (including Senior plans). If you don’t have health insurance, then you must buy a plan or pay a tax penalty.


Question: Do I have to buy a plan on the Exchange?

Answer: No. You can buy a plan on the Exchange, or off the Exchange from any health insurance company doing business in Iowa (an independent health insurance agent can let you know what your choices are either way).


Question: So why should I buy a health plan from the Exchange?

Answer: You would only want to buy a plan on the Exchange if you are in a lower income bracket. If your estimated 2014 income is between about $12,000 and $46,000, so you may qualify for a subsidy or tax credit, to lower your monthly insurance payment.


Question: Even if I have health insurance now, can I shop for new coverage?

Answer: Yes, you can shop on or off the Exchange during an “Open Enrollment Period” starting October 1 and up to next March 31, and not be turned down or rated due to health problems.


Question: Where can I find out more information?

Answer: Contact your local independent health insurance agent, attend an upcoming State of Iowa Market Place Meeting, or call (877-955-1212 or 515-281-5705) or click the Iowa Insurance Division. There is also a fact sheet from the Governor with some helpful information for Iowans, as well as a robust website from Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa.


Robert Joseph

Independent Health Insurance Agent

Midwest Insurance Mart

Ph: 243-2483



The content provided is for information purposes only and not intended as legal advice.  The information provided is not a substitute for a consultation with a professional advisor or health plan.


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