Comments to Best Interest Rulemaking
Insurance Commissioner Reminds Iowans Experiencing Economic Impact Due to Covid-19 to Consider ACA Special Enrollment Periods and Other Health Coverage Options
Des Moines – Iowans who have experienced change in employment status due to COVID -19 may be eligible to enroll in Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage through healthcare.gov. A special enrollment period (SEP) is a period outside of open enrollment when a person can enroll in or switch ACA coverage.
“Iowans throughout the state that may need new health insurance coverage due to a job loss may be able to obtain individual coverage from Medica or Wellmark through a special enrollment period. Federal subsidies are available to help lower premium costs in instances where household income will be below 400 percent of federal poverty level,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said. “It’s important for Iowans to fully understand their options. Getting professional help from a licensed insurance agent is recommended.”
Loss of qualifying health coverage, a change in income, or a reduction in work hours within the past 60 days or expected within the next 60 days are examples of events that may trigger an SEP. The Iowa Insurance Division wants to remind Iowans that there is no specific SEP related to the COVID-19 public health emergency that allows those without coverage to enroll in ACA plans. However, Iowans may explore options beyond the ACA such as COBRA, the Farm Bureau health plan or short-term limited duration plans.
Also, those Iowans who experience a reduction in their incomes and who are currently receiving subsidies through their ACA plan should consider updating their income through the healthcare.gov as they may be eligible for increased subsidies for their premium costs.
Consumer Connection: Financial Literacy Month
By Sonya Sellmeyer, Consumer Advocacy Officer for the Iowa Insurance Division
Financial literacy is the ability to understand and apply financial management skills, and April is the month dedicated to teaching this important concept, especially to our youth. During this difficult and challenging time, the meaning of financial literacy may have taken on a broader focus to include preparedness and protection as they relate to your finances.
Having a disaster plan not only includes having toilet paper and hand sanitizer but also includes having a plan for your finances. Do you have an emergency fund? If not, start one and work on a plan to maintain it. What about a budget? Your expenses may have changed during the pandemic, and your budget may need adjustments. Prioritize your expenses and protect your credit score. If you are having trouble paying your bills, call your creditor and explain your situation. Some credit card issuers and banks may suspend payments and interest, for a limited period of time.
COVID-19-Related Investment Schemes Anticipated
Des Moines – The Iowa Insurance Division is alerting investors to be on guard against an anticipated surge of fraudulent investment schemes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“In these extraordinary times the health and welfare of our people is our first concern, and that includes financial health,” said Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen. “Scammers will begin perpetrating schemes that require little or no advance planning and minimal sophistication. Most will simply be old scams dressed up in new clothing. Especially in these times of market and economic challenges, investors must stay calm, keep their eyes on the longer term ‘big picture’ and remain vigilant to protect themselves.”
Iowa Insurance Division, SHIIP and SMP Available to Assist Iowans
Des Moines – The Iowa Insurance Division is reminding Iowans that staff and volunteers with the Iowa Insurance Division, the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) are available to assist Iowans. Public access to the Iowa Insurance Division office may be limited effective Friday, March 20, 2020 and will remain in place until further notice. These practices are being implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“While precautions are being taken in light of COVID-19, the Iowa Insurance Division is committed to continuing to be a resource for Iowans,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said.
Iowans with questions or concerns with their insurance policies, securities or investments can file a complaint with the Iowa Insurance Division online at https://iid.iowa.gov/insurance-consumer-complaint or by phone at 515-281-6348.
Iowans with questions or concerns regarding Medicare or Medicare Fraud can contact SHIIP and SMP at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800-351-4664. In addition, most SHIIP and SMP sites in communities throughout Iowa are available by phone to assist Iowans. A list of open sites and phone numbers can be found here.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Resources
As the State of Iowa responds to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Iowa Insurance Division is closely monitoring the situation and actively communicating with insurance companies that operate in the State of Iowa. The Division provides answers to some commonly asked questions below and will update this page as necessary.
The Commissioner reminds Iowans that they can help prevent the spread of illness by following simple daily precautions including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. It is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends getting the flu vaccine. Influenza activity is widespread in Iowa and as long as flu viruses are circulating, it’s not too late to receive the vaccine.