Gov. Reynolds signs affordable health plan bill

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill on Monday that creates affordable health plan options for Iowans who can’t afford to buy health insurance.

Senate File 2349 allows health plans created by associations of employers or sponsored by certain agricultural organizations. In her Condition of the State address in January, the governor called for lawmakers to work together on a bill to give Iowa farmers, small business owners and their employees access to affordable health care.

Before the Affordable Care Act took effect, Iowa had a healthy individual insurance market. There were nine carriers, with good participation and reasonable premiums. Today, the state’s market is in collapse. Premiums went up 57 percent last year, forcing many Iowans to choose between going broke or going without insurance. As a result, 26,000 Iowans left the insurance market.

Senate File 2349 allows Farm Bureau to build a self-funded health benefit arrangement that will work for Iowans forced from the individual market. It also gives small employers the ability to band together to create affordable health care options for their employees.

“Thank you to Farm Bureau for their work and willingness to provide relief to Iowans who can no longer afford their health insurance,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Thank you also to Iowa Insurance Division Commissioner Doug Ommen for his leadership on this issue. Because of this bill, thousands of Iowans will now have affordable health care coverage.”

Senate File 2349 passed the Iowa House on March 21, 69-30 and the Iowa Senate on March 27, 37-11.