Health insurance: What Iowans need to know

Ragan Report Column: Recent health care news has left many Iowans frustrated and confused.

Most Iowans get health care coverage through their employer, through a health insurance plan they purchase on their own, or through public health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Below are a couple changes Iowans should be aware of. • Buying your own health insurance for 2018

Iowans who plan to buy their own health insurance can enroll through Dec. 15. Call 1-800-318-2596 or visit to learn about enrolling and to see if you qualify for subsidies to help pay for your coverage.

Medica is the only insurer offering plans to Iowans who purchase their own health insurance for 2018. Medica will offer different insurance plans depending on your county of residence.

Medica Insure will be available in 72 counties, including Cerro Gordo and Franklin. This is an open-access provider network with tiered copays. If you use preferred health care providers, you’ll have lower deductibles and co-pays. Medica Insure has more than 13,000 primary and specialty care providers and more than 250 hospitals.

Inspire by Medica is offered in conjunction with UnityPoint Health in 25 counties, including Butler. Members will pay less when they see UnityPoint Health providers. The UnityPoint network includes more than 3,300 primary and specialty care doctors, more than 39 hospitals, and online and convenience care clinics.

• What to do if you have Medicaid through AmeriHealth

AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa is one of three private “Managed Care Organizations” that have been running Iowa’s privatized Medicaid since April 2016. The company announced that they will stop operating in Iowa at the end of the month.

Now 215,000 Iowans must switch to a different insurer and may have to find new doctors. All AmeriHealth members will be tentatively re-assigned to UnitedHealthcare on December 1, but may choose to change to Amerigroup for any reason through March 1, 2018.

Medicaid members should watch their mail for important details on these changes. If you have questions or concerns, call Iowa Medicaid Member Services at 1-800-338-8366.

Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City) serves Franklin, Butler and Cerro Gordo counties in Senate District 27. She can be reached at (515) 281-3371 or (641) 424-0874. Email her at