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ObamaCare Info for Iowa

Obamacare Info for Iowa

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What Iowa Residents Need to Know About Obamacare

Welcome to the fastest way to find out about Obamacare in Iowa.

Here, you'll find clear and accurate information about Obamacare, including:

  • whether or not you must get health insurance
  • what the available plans cover
  • how much coverage will cost
  • how to sign up for a plan, and
  • how to get help if you need it.

To begin, keep in mind these key points about Obamacare in Iowa:

1. You are legally required to have health insurance, unless you qualify for an exemption.

The Affordable Care Act requires you to enroll in a health insurance plan unless you qualify for an exemption from the law. You must report whether you have coverage -- or whether you are exempt -- when you file your taxes in April.


Do I Have to Get Obamacare in Iowa?

Despite what you may have heard, you can’t be arrested or thrown in jail if you don’t have health insurance in Iowa. You may, however, be forced to pay a tax penalty if you aren't enrolled in a health insurance plan that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

To avoid the penalty, you must either obtain qualified health coverage or prove your eligibility for an exemption.

What Qualifies as Coverage?

If you have any of the following types of health coverage, you won’t have to pay a penalty:

  • an individual insurance plan, whether purchased on your own or through, the exchange serving Iowa
  • a plan (including COBRA or a retiree plan) provided by your employer
  • Medicare, Medicaid, or coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)  more...  

How Much Does Obamacare Cost in Iowa?

This article explains the costs of health care plans offered under Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) for individuals or families who are currently uninsured or not covered by a job-based health plan.

What you'll pay for an Obamacare plan depends on five things:

  1. The level of coverage you choose
  2. Whether you qualify for a subsidy
  3. Where you live in Iowa
  4. Your age
  5. Whether you smoke

Read on to learn more about each of these factors. 

1. The Level of Coverage You Choose

Obamacare insurance plans offer four levels of coverage, commonly called "metal levels":


How Do I Sign Up for Obamacare in Iowa?

The easiest way to sign up for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act is to go to the online health insurance marketplace for Iowa. If you're not ready to enroll right now, you can get more information online, over the phone, or in person.

Where's the Iowa Health Care Exchange?

You can find the health insurance exchange for Iowa at This is where you can learn about the various health insurance options available to you under Obamacare. If you see a plan you like, you'll be guided through the enrollment process online.

You might not see any mention of Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act when you visit the exchange website, but rest assured you’ve landed in the right place. The exchange was established solely for the purpose of informing consumers about the Affordable Care Act and providing plans under the law.


What Happens If I Missed the Iowa Obamacare Enrollment Deadline for 2016?

For 2016, Obamacare's open enrollment period ended on January 31. That means it’s too late for most people to use a health insurance exchange to get coverage for 2016.

If you let the Obamacare deadline pass you by this year, here are some things to know.

You Can Still Enroll If You Qualify for a “Special Enrollment” Period

Certain life events make you eligible to sign up for Obamacare outside of open enrolllment. The circumstances under which you may qualify for special enrollment include:

  • moving to a new state
  • having a baby or adopting a child
  • getting married or divorced
  • leaving a job and losing your insurance
  • losing coverage under your parents’ plan
  • losing coverage because someone on your plan has died
  • losing other types of health insurance
  • gaining status as a member of an Indian tribe
  • becoming an American citizen, or
  • getting out of prison.


What to Do If You're Frustrated or Fed Up With Applying for Iowa Obamacare Through

As Obamacare enters its fourth open-enrollment period, one would hope the health insurance application process would be as simple and fast as it was originally intended to be. But, for many, streamlined health plan enrollment and renewal -- not to mention truly affordable coverage -- still seems like a faraway goal.

Below are a couple strategies to keep your application moving forward and get your health insurance needs met.

Common Complaints from Health Insurance Applicants

The list of complaints from those caught in the health exchange bureaucracy is long, commonly including:

  • exchange websites are still buggy or broken
  • phone and chat hold times are unreasonable, and representatives often don’t have helpful answers to questions
  • applicants can’t easily compare health plan benefits and costs
  • applicants can’t figure out whether their current health care providers are included in the plan they’re considering
  • applicants choose plans only to discover later that they can’t afford them
  • application information isn’t recorded properly (or protected from privacy violations) by the health care exchange
  • exchanges are slow to respond to problems with applications, premium payments, or tax forms, and
  • health insurance plans are sometimes canceled or changed without notice.


Obamacare and Taxes: What You Need to Know Before You File

Do you have to worry about new IRS Forms 1095, 8965, or 8962? The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, requires almost everyone to do one of the following three things when they file their taxes this year:

  • confirm they had health insurance coverage for 2015
  • claim an exemption from health coverage, or
  • pay a penalty when when they file their return.

For some people, complying with the Affordable Care Act will mean filling out new tax forms. Fortunately, that’s not true for most folks -- and even those who need assistance with Obamacare’s new tax rules can get help.

Here’s what you should know about filing your taxes in the era of health care reform.


Understanding Obamacare's Preventive Health Care Benefits

Get a colonoscopy, mammogram, vaccinations, and other essential services for free

The Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to offer certain preventive care services free of charge -- or more accurately, for nothing more than the cost of your monthly insurance premiums. This rule applies to most plans sold directly by insurance companies and all plans sold through, the health care marketplace for Iowa. Covered preventive services are available for free (meaning no co-pay or other out-of-pocket charges) whether or not you’ve met your plan’s annual deductible.

Tips for Using Your Preventive Care Benefits – And Avoiding Unexpected Charges

Below, you’ll find a list of free preventive benefits -- screening tests, counseling services, and vaccinations -- for adults, women, and kids. But first, here are some pointers to help you avoid an unexpected bill for services you thought were preventive.

Use a network provider. To get a preventive service for free, you must use a health care provider in your insurance plan’s network.

Know the difference between “preventive” and “diagnostic.” Doctors can use screening tests for either preventive or diagnostic reasons. For example, having a routine mammogram every year or two is preventive care for women over 40. But if you schedule a mammogram because you feel a lump or have breast pain, that’s diagnostic. Likewise, a routine colonoscopy is recommended for adults over 50, but if your doctor schedules a colonoscopy to investigate a problem like blood in your stool, it becomes a diagnostic procedure. Preventative services are free; diagnostic procedures are not. (If the timing is right -- say, you go to the doctor because you find a lump in your breast but you also happen to be due for an annual mammogram -- your doctor may bill the diagnostic procedure as preventive, but that’s not something you can count on.)


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Iowa Medicaid Expansion: Can I Use Medicaid to Satisfy the Health Insurance Requirement?

One way to satisfy Obamacare’s health insurance requirement is to obtain coverage under Medicaid. If you qualify for Medicaid and enroll in Iowa's Medicaid program, you do not have to sign up for another insurance plan.

It’s Now Easier to Qualify for Medicaid in Iowa

The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility to cover more people who can’t afford health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court later decided that it was up to individual states to decide whether or not to expand Medicaid.

Iowa did decide to expand its Medicaid program, but it has done so in a way that differs from most states. Iowa residents who need health coverage and are newly eligible for Medicaid -- those who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level -- may go to the health insurance marketplace at There, they can apply for a private health insurance plan. Those who earn at least 100% of the federal poverty level will be expected to pay premiums of up to 2% of their annual household income.


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Obamacare for Self-Employed Iowa Residents

Many self-employed people will be quick to tell you that getting and paying for health insurance is one of the biggest hassles they face. But this may change for the better under Obamacare, which provides new coverage options for the self-employed.

Are You Self-Employed or an Employer? 

Before you start evaluating your options for health coverage, you need understand whether you are in fact considered self-employed under Obamacare.

The law says you are self-employed if you are an independent contractor or a sole proprietor without employees. (If you hire other independent contractors to do some work for you, you probably still qualify as self-employed.) Self-employed people can use the new health care marketplace to purchase individual health insurance plans.

If you have employees – usually, workers whose income you report on a W-2 at the end of the year -- you’re considered an employer. In that case, you can learn about purchasing health insurance for yourself and your employees through the SHOP Marketplace.

If you aren’t sure whether the people who work for you are independent contractors or employees, read "Independent Contractor (Self-Employed) or Employee?" on the IRS website.


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How Obamacare Affects Unemployed Iowa Residents

The difficulties of unemployment are often compounded by the lack or loss of health insurance. But millions of Americans who are currently without both a job and health coverage may find relief under Obamacare. That's because new coverage options are now available through, the health insurance marketplace serving Iowa.

All plans available through the marketplace offer essential medical benefits, including preventive care, emergency services, and prescription drug coverage. You can't be turned away if you have a pre-existing medical condition and, as an unemployed person, you probably qualify for significant cost-saving subsidies.

When you sign up for a marketplace health plan, your coverage can start within a few weeks. Usually, you must sign up during an open enrollment period. (For 2016, open enrollment ends on January 31.) But leaving your job and losing job-based health insurance makes you eligible for a special enrollment period. That means you'll have 60 days to sign up for a new health plan. 

Here's an overview of your options for health insurance if you are unemployed, plus more information about what might happen if you don't get health coverage. (And if you're looking for information about applying or eligibility for unemployment, see our articles on Iowa unemployment benefits.)


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What Domestic Partners Need to Know About Applying for Health Insurance Under Obamacare

When registered domestic partners or civil union partners apply for coverage in the new health insurance marketplace, there’s one question that almost always arises: Do we apply based on our separate incomes, or must we include all the income we make as a couple?

The answer depends on the state where you live.

States other than California, Nevada, or Washington. In almost all states, registered domestic partners or civil union partners who apply for insurance via the state’s health insurance exchange must do so separately. Each partner includes only his or her separate income, and this amount determines health plan costs and eligibility for cost-saving subsidies. It works this way because domestic partners are not considered married for federal tax purposes. (If you registered first and got legally married later, this article doesn't apply to you. You must apply as a married person and report your combined income.)

California, Nevada, or Washington. In these states, which extend community property laws to registered domestic partners, domestic partners must usually apply using half of the partners’ combined incomes. (We confirmed this with the legal department at Covered California after repeatedly receiving conflicting information from representatives staffing the exchange’s customer service phone line.) This is because IRS rules require that domestic partners registered in these community property states report half of their combined community income on their federal taxes each year.


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Iowa Health Care Subsidies Upheld By U.S. Supreme Court: King v. Burwell

Updated June 25, 2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld health care subsidies for residents of Iowa and other states that rely on, the federal government’s health insurance exchange. As described below, King v. Burwell could have ended tax-credit subsidies for states that use the federal marketplace to facilitate the purchase of health insurance plans under Obamacare.

The 6-3 ruling means that almost 6.5 million Americans will continue to receive the financial assistance that helps them afford health insurance.


About This Website

We built this website to get people the answers they need about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Our goal is to guide you to reliable, local information about your new health insurance options.

When you choose your state or enter your zip code above, you will quickly learn:

  • whether or not you're required to get health insurance

  • what the available plans cover

  • how much coverage will cost, and

  • how to sign up in your state.

For those concerned about cost, we show you how to determine whether you qualify for subsidies. We also explain the rules about expanded Medicaid eligibility.


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