The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

April 2, 2014

Another health care option

OTTUMWA — If you didn't get your "mandatory" health insurance by the deadline earlier this week, you may have another option. Or two.

"I'd certainly keep trying," said Greg Kenning, a Wapello County supervisor.

He said it's his understanding that there may be a bit of wiggle room when it comes to that March 31 deadline for the Affordable Care Act.

"One thing I think has been glossed over is how that penalty can really add up," Kenning said. "For people who are thinking they'll just pay the penalty, they should rethink that."

Here's the thing, Kenning said: Those who have tried to sign up but had problems now have an extension (until April 15) to sign up. The wiggle room, Kenning believes, is in the definitions of both "tried" or "had problems." Those things can be pretty subjective.

"Everybody needs to sign up for it. I wouldn't stop," Kenning said.

Two subgroups really needing to register, Kenning worries, are young adults, who may not think about catastrophic health costs, and new immigrants, who may not be discussing the Affordable Care Act with peers.

The second possibility is to get coverage elsewhere. "In Wapello County, you can do the Marketplace (ACA) or the Iowa Health and Wellness plan — if you are within 133 percent of federal poverty guidelines. This plan is not too bad. It covers just about everything the ACA does."

An official with the state of Iowa said to think of Iowa Health and Wellness coverage as a type of Medicaid for more people.

"Medicaid expansion," explained Amy McCoy, public information officer for the Iowa Department of Human Services. "It's much more comprehensive. It [can be used] by residents ages 19 to 64 who were not previously eligible for Medicaid."

And there's no deadline, she said. Iowans could sign up today if they meet the income eligibility guidelines.

"So far, we've had about 85,000 people register for Iowa Health and Wellness," she said.

Those Iowans are not required to shop through the Obamacare website, McCoy confirmed.

— News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark

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