How the Health Care Law is Making a Difference for the People of Iowa

The Affordable Care Act is providing better options, better value, better health, and a stronger Medicare program to the people of Iowa by:

Better Options

The Health Insurance Marketplace

Through the Health Insurance Marketplace Iowans can compare qualified health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for lower costs for private insurance or health programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in health coverage. 

At the end of the first annual open enrollment period, enrollment in the Marketplace surged to eight million people nationwide. In Iowa alone, 29,163 individuals selected a Marketplace plan between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 (including additional special enrollment period activity through April 19, 2014).

Of the 29,163 Iowans who selected a plan:

  • 54% are female and 46% are male;
  • 31% are under age 35;
  • 27% are between the ages of 18 and 34;
  • 57% selected a Silver plan, while 26% selected a Bronze plan; and,
  • 84% selected a plan with financial assistance.

Although open enrollment for 2014 coverage is over, the next open enrollment period begins on November 15, 2014 for coverage that can begin as early as January 1, 2015.  Click here to learn more about your coverage options outside of open enrollment. 

Iowa has received $59,683,889 in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of its Marketplace. 


Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is open year round.  An additional 78,860 Iowans enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP through the end of March 2014, compared to enrollment before the Marketplace opened October 1, 2013.  To find out if you are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP visit or if you prefer Spanish.

Twenty-six states and Washington, D.C. have expanded Medicaid so far, with the federal government providing 100 percent of the funds for the newly eligible population for the next three years, and never less than 90 percent after that. Iowa has taken advantage of the new opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Mental Health

The Affordable Care Act increases access to comprehensive coverage by requiring most health plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, to include hospitalization, prescription drugs, maternity and newborn care, and mental health and substance use disorder services.  The health care law expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for 62 million Americans nationwide, including 665,355 Iowans.

New coverage options for young adults

Under the health care law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Thanks to this provision, over 3 million young people who would otherwise have been uninsured have gained coverage nationwide, including 20,000 young adults in Iowa.

Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions

As many as 1,290,303 non-elderly Iowans have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 167,995 children.  Today, most insurers can no longer deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, under the health care law.  And they can no longer charge women more because of their gender.

Better Value

Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule

Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, rather than administrative costs like salaries or marketing, or they have to provide you a refund.  This means that 1,766 Iowans with private insurance coverage benefited from $147,246 in refunds from insurance companies in 2012, for an average refund of $111 per family covered by a policy.

Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases 

In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Since implementing the law, the fraction of requests for insurance premium increases of 10 percent or more has dropped dramatically, from 75 percent to 14 percent nationally.  To date, the rate review program has helped save Americans an estimated $1 billion.

Removing lifetime limits on health benefits 

The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 1,187,000 people in Iowa, including 433,000 women and 311,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely starting in 2014.

Better Health

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay

The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.

In 2011 and 2012, 71 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 801,000 in Iowa. And women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need.  Approximately 47 million women, including 519,908 in Iowa will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing.

Increasing support for community health centers

The health care law increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. In Iowa, 14 health centers operate 92 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 181,781 people.  Health Center grantees in Iowa have received $62,907,141 under the health care law to support ongoing health center operations and to establish new health center sites, expand services, and/or support major capital improvement projects. 

Community Health Centers in all 50 states also received a total of $150 million in federal grants to help enroll uninsured Americans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, including $2,242,742 awarded to Iowa health centers.  Iowa health centers anticipated using these funds to hire 116 additional workers who would assist 30,588 Iowans with enrollment into affordable health insurance coverage. 

Investing in the primary care workforce

As a result of historic investments through the health care law and the Recovery Act, the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are near all-time highs with 8,900 Corps clinicians providing care to more than 9.3 million people who live in rural, urban, and frontier communities.  The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, and other primary care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve the people who live there.  As of September 30, 2013, there were 104 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Iowa, compared to 38 in 2008.

Preventing illness and promoting health

Through Fiscal Year 2013, Iowa has received $36,959,624 in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health care law. This fund was created to support effective policies in Iowa and nationwide, such as initiatives focused on tobacco cessation, obesity prevention, health coverage enrollment assistance, and increasing the primary care and public health workforce, so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives. 

A Stronger Medicare Program

Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors 

In Iowa, people with Medicare have saved nearly $105,175,503 on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act.  In 2013 alone, 46,339 individuals in Iowa saved over $37,465,256, or an average of $809 per beneficiary.  In 2013, people with Medicare in the “donut hole” received a 52.5 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and a 21 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.  Nationally, over 7.9 million people with Medicare have saved over $9.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law’s enactment.

Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay

With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2013 alone, an estimated 37.2 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing.  In Iowa, 414,107 individuals with Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2013.

Protecting Medicare’s solvency

The health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Over the last five years, the administration’s fraud enforcement efforts have recovered $19.2 billion from fraudsters. For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has returned $8.10.

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Content last reviewed on June 5, 2014