Association Health Plan Bills Debated

March 8, 2018

The Senate passed two bills this week aimed at providing additional options for more affordable health insurance in Iowa. One bill, SF 2349, would create an option for associations to form group health insurance plans under the oversight of the Iowa Insurance Division and in compliance with federal law and rules. The legislation is based off of federal rules currently being considered, but wouldn’t go into effect until the rules are finalized. Some senators expressed concern it was premature for the Legislature to act without the rules being finalized. The bill passed the Iowa Senate on a vote of 33-17 and has been referred to the House Commerce Committee.

Another more narrow bill, SF 2329, advanced by the Senate on a 40-9 vote Wednesday would allow Farm Bureau to offer its members health benefit coverage outside of the regulations of the State Insurance Division or the Federal Affordable Care Act. Criticisms of the bill by some senators included that certain individuals, such as those with preexisting conditions, would not be eligible for the coverage; that coverage would not be robust enough; and that there wouldn’t be adequate oversight of the plans. Sen. Feenstra, the floor manager of the bill, reiterated this gives an option to some people who are struggling to pay for insurance, and that insurance agents selling the plans would go over the coverage with those purchasing it to ensure they understood what was covered. The bill now goes to the House.

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