How the health care plan will impact Iowans - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

How the health care plan will impact Iowans


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- With the new health care plan, more people will be able to get health insurance either through employers or health insurance exchange programs with other people or small businesses.

One of the key numbers there is $88,000. That's where the break happens: Families of four that earn too much to get Medicaid, but earn less than $88,000 a year will get financial assistance to help with insurance. For individuals, the earning bracket is roughly $14,400 to $43,300 per year.

In Iowa, the median family income is around 25% lower than the $88,000 figure, so most Iowa families will qualify for that or Medicaid. If you've already got affordable insurance through your employer, this doesn't apply, and you'll likely see no change in costs.

To give you an idea of the impact on a town, take a look at Dubuque: 7,200 Dubuquers don't have medical insurance; that's close to one in ten people (8.1%).

With the new laws, you have to have to find affordable health insurance or get fined. Congress estimates nearly 60% of uninsured Americans will have coverage in ten years. That means in Dubuque, we're looking at less than one in twenty uninsured in 2020.

Breaking it down by income: Low-income earners have more options. More people will qualify for Medicaid. Right now, there are around 6,500 people on Medicaid in Dubuque County.

Also, the around 16,500 people in the county with Medicare will have more money available for prescription drugs. That's because the "doughnut hole" will slowly close.

Community health clinics (like Crescent Community Health Center) will also get a boost, a positive for local health officials.

"Community health centers are getting more funding for existing community health centers so they can serve more people and for them to get a better rate of reimbursement for preventative services too," Public Health Specialist Mary Rose Corrigan said.

Medium-income earners could qualify for assistance (especially lower-middle earners), but the bigger differences come in special circumstances: Insurance companies can't penalize you for pre-existing conditions or drop you for getting sick.

High income makers will pay more in hospital taxes, hospital insurance plans, and if your family earns more than $250,000 a year, you'll pay higher Medicare tax.

While more people will be insured, the net change in Iowa isn't expected to be high by local health officials. They say the added insured patients shouldn't increase drastically or increase clinic wait times.

"Overall, I don't expect significant changes to occur locally in our Dubuque market. As people may not know, Iowa's citizens enjoy overall higher rates of insurance coverage," Medical Associates Clinic CEO John Tallent said.

Things could change in this health care plan; the Senate will look at the plan likely starting Thursday. During a very quick voting process called reconciliation, changes could be made.

Online Reporter: Jamie Grey

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