757 Iowans Sign Up Through Two Months, Many More Eligible For State Medicaid


By Chris Earl

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Less than 1,000 Iowa residents are marked as enrolled in the federal marketplace website for health insurance (healthcare.gov), according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report states 757 Iowans officially signed up, 3% of the 25,007 people included for coverage on 12,755 completed applications.

This comes as a December 23 deadline looms for uninsured Iowans to sign up for coverage to be eligible by January 1.

"The thing that people are going to get hung up is that 750 have chosen a plan," said Jeff Tourdot, Affordable Care Act outreach and education specialist with Linn Community Care in Cedar Rapids. "It's like any major decision we make. We want to make sure we go through due process."

Iowa is one of 36 states using the federal enrollment website and with fewer enrollments than five other states with less population (Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming).

Yet there is another number worth exploring amid the 25,007 people who are included in completed applications.

Nearly 30% of the 25,007 - a total of 7,382 - are listed as "determined or assessed eligible for Medicaid" by the marketplace in the HHS report.

On Tuesday, the HHS approved Iowa's plan to expand Medicaid, allowing residents up to 138% of the federal poverty level to qualify for the low-income health insurance program. For a single person, that income threshold is $15,414. A family of four would have an income of $31,809 to meet the 138% figure.

"With Medicaid expansion, individuals in the first year will not have to pay anything for doctor visits, premium costs, prescription costs or (emergency room) visits," said Tourdot.

Tourdot said there has been an increased demand in recent days at their location in the Abbe Center for Community Mental Health on 11th Street NW.

"In the past two days, we've seen 75 individuals get enrolled," said Tourdot.

Trying to obtain an accurate picture of how many Iowans have enrolled can also come down to the federal hubs being able to synch information with state computers.

Amy Lorentzen McCoy, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Human Services, wrote in an e-mail on Wednesday that "the federal hub cannot connect with state systems for the purpose of transmitting application and enrollment information."

McCoy reported these totals for Iowans under auto-enrollment:

Iowa Health and Wellness Plan: 42.968

Iowa MarketPlace Choice Plan: 8,703

"Iowans have had tremendous interest in the innovate plan, with about 60,000 Iowans having signed up already," wrote McCoy.

December 11, 2013 DHS Report:

Here are some of the options for Iowans looking to secure health insurance before the December 23 deadline:

Federal Site:

Iowa Health And Wellness Plan:

Iowa Marketplace Choice Plan:

Iowa Marketplace Choice Plan (Through CoOportunity Health):

Tourdot also noted that people who do sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace must have made payment by December 23 for January 1, 2014 coverage.

"This is something that needs to be clarified because, otherwise, individuals will think they are covered and good but they need to pay the carrier by the 23rd of December," said Tourdot.

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