Iowans who don’t have access to employer-sponsored health coverage and must purchase their own will soon have a new option. The Farm Bureau Health Plan will start taking applications for coverage on Nov. 1, 2018.
During the 2018 legislative session, the Iowa Legislature passed a law, signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, which enabled the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) to provide an underwritten health benefit plan to its members. The Farm Bureau Health Benefit Plan LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, will provide these plans.
The new health care coverage option, called the Farm Bureau Health Plan, will help to address the concerns expressed by many Farm Bureau members, said Craig Hill, IFBF president.
“According to our membership surveys, health care coverage is the number one concern facing our members,” he said. “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.”
The Farm Bureau Health Plan may 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. A significant majority of current ACA members receive tax credits that significantly reduces their cost and makes those ACA plans a more cost-effective option.
“A typical Iowa family who would not qualify for ACA subsidies will find the Farm Bureau Health Plan a much more competitive option for their health care needs,” said Steve Kammeyer, Farm Bureau Health Plan Services commissioner.
“For example, a 45-year-old couple in Clear Lake with two teenage children would currently pay approximately $27,000 per year for a bronze ACA policy, if they did not qualify for a premium subsidy. Comparable health benefits under the Farm Bureau Health Plan would save that same family 35 to 40 percent in health coverage costs annually.”
The Farm Bureau Health Plan will offer three different plan designs, including two traditional plans with co-pays, co-insurance 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. Last, the plans will have a $3 million lifetime benefit maximum per covered individual.
The Farm Bureau Health Plan will use the Wellmark Blue HMO provider network, which includes 100 percent of hospitals and 97 percent of the physicians in Iowa. Wellmark Administrators of Iowa will administer the plan.
IFBF, a century-strong organization with offices and membership in every county in Iowa, has a long-standing partnership with Wellmark dating back to 1969.
Anyone interested in applying for Farm Bureau Health Plan should visit www.IowaFBHealthPlan.com to learn more.