DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Starting in October, the way Iowans get health insurance is going to change as a result of the Affordable Care Act. The new law aims to reduce the uninsured population by requiring people to get coverage and setting up online marketplaces called exchanges where people can look at private insurance options and government subsidies. The federal government is also urging states to expand their Medicaid programs, which provide health care to the poor and disabled.
Here are answers to some of the questions on how the process will unfold in the state:
Q: How many people are uninsured in Iowa?
A: According to state officials, about 10 percent of Iowa's population, or 300,000 people, don't have health insurance. Many will be able to get coverage under the new exchange, but how many isn't clear.
Q: How many people in Iowa will be getting coverage through Medicaid?
A: About 400,000 adults currently receive Medicaid coverage. Another 150,000 would be eligible if the state expands the program as the federal government has proposed. Gov. Terry Branstad, who has cited concerns about the cost, has rejected the idea but Democratic lawmakers are calling for the expansion. Under the new law, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the expansion costs through 2016, with the states eventually contributing 10 percent.
Q: How is the exchange going to be set up?
A: Iowa is planning to partner with the federal government to establish the exchange. The state proposes to handle insurance regulation and supervising Medicaid eligibility -- duties it already manages -- while the federal government runs the exchange website with information about insurance options. Iowa will submit a blueprint plan to the federal government by Feb. 15.