Margaret Huntley Last Updated On: August 10, 2023

Here’s How to Find Low Cost Health Insurance in Iowa

Iowans know there’s no shortage of corn and rolling fields in the Hawkeye State. But there’s also no shortage of great health insurance options in Iowa. 

Whether you’re looking to switch plans, have recently lost coverage, or want to explore your options, we’ve got everything you need and more. From plan types to cost, we dive into exactly how to find the best health insurance in Iowa. 

Your health can’t wait. Let’s get started.

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Table of Contents

Health Insurance Options in Iowa

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by your options for health insurance. But the silver lining is that you do have options for your healthcare needs, so let’s go ahead and simplify them. Here are the main buckets of health insurance coverage in Iowa:
  • Individual: This is health insurance that you purchase yourself either on or off of the federal health insurance Marketplace. If you use the Marketplace, you could be eligible for tax credits/subsidies to help reduce your costs. Marketplace plans are broken down by metal tiers, which we’ll dive into later. To purchase off of the Marketplace, you would speak to an insurance agent to find the best option or purchase directly from a private insurer. 
  • Government: The government offers low-cost health insurance programs for those that are eligible, depending on income, age, health, and more. 
    • Medicare: For those aged 65 and older or with certain disabilities/health conditions, Medicare offers affordable healthcare. It’s broken down into four parts:
      • Part A: Hospital insurance for in-patient care, skilled nursing facilities, hospice, and home healthcare. 
      • Part B: Medical insurance for doctor’s visits, tests, preventative care, medical equipment, and more.
      • Part C: Medicare Advantage, a Medicare-approved plan from a private insurer that bundles Parts A, B and usually D, plus added services like vision and dental.
      • Part D: Prescription drug coverage.
  • Medicaid: This is a program available for low-income individuals and those with certain disabilities or health conditions. To qualify, an individual generally has to be at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. Iowa Medicaid is broken into three programs:
    • IA Health Link: Most Medicaid recipients will fall under IA Health Link and be able to choose their coverage from a Managed Care Organization (MCO). 
    • Medicaid Fee-for-Service: For those not transitioning to the IA Health Link program, Medicaid Fee-for-Service includes those receiving services from:
      • Health Insurance Premium Payment Program (HIPP)
      • Medicare Savings Program (MSP)
      • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)
      • Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB)
      • Three Day Emergency
      • Medically Needy
      • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
      • American Indian or Alaskan Native program
    • Hawki: This is Iowa’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and it stands for Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa. 
  • Employer: This is small or large group insurance available through you or your spouse’s employer. Note, companies with less than 50 full-time employees don’t have to provide health insurance to their employees. Employer-sponsored health insurance can be cost effective, since many employers pay for some or all of the premiums.  
    • COBRA: If you lose your job, you can temporarily retain your employer-provided health insurance coverage for 18-36 months through the COBRA program. However, keep in mind that your previous employer no longer contributes to your premiums, so your costs could increase. 
  • Short-Term Health Insurance: This is private health insurance available for shorter periods of time that can help you get through a transition from one job to the next or help cover you while you search for a longer term plan. Short-term health insurance can end up costing more and often don’t cover pre-existing conditions, so be sure the plan makes sense for you. 
Healthcare needs vary from person to person and from situation to situation, which is why there are so many options to choose from. Next, we’ll dive a little deeper into individual health insurance options from the Marketplace.

Individual Health Insurance by Metal Tiers

Plans from the Marketplace are broken down by metal tiers to help guide you to the right plan for your needs. The premiums, coverage, out-of-pocket costs, and deductibles can vary significantly between tiers. These tiers include: 

  • Catastrophic: This tier comes with the lowest premiums but also the highest out-of-pocket costs. Only those under the age of 30 or those with a “hardship” exemption can qualify for this tier. 
    • Average cost: $354 per month for a 40-year-old
  • Bronze: This is the next cheapest tier after Catastrophic and comes with low premiums and high deductibles. Usually, you’ll need to pay for one major medical service before the deductible is met and coverage kicks in. You can expect the Bronze plan to pay for about 60% of your medical costs, with you covering the other 40%.
    • Average cost: $445 per month for a 40-year-old
  • Silver: This tier is more expensive than Bronze, but offers more balance between premiums and costs to the policyholder. If you qualify for subsidies, you can get even more out of this plan for less. Silver policyholders can expect to have 70% of their medical costs covered, or even over 90% with subsidies. 
    • Average cost: $552 per month for a 40-year-old
  • Gold: This tier is the most expensive in terms of premiums, but also comes with the lowest out-of-pocket maximums. If you have high medical costs, this is your best option to get the most coverage and pay the least, even after the higher premiums. Coverage jumps to 80% of your medical costs, with you paying the other 20%.
    • Average cost: $551 per month for a 40-year-old

There’s no one recommendation for everyone in terms of plan tier. The right choice for you really depends on your typical medical costs and budget; for healthy individuals that rarely need healthcare or for those with lower incomes, Catastrophic or Bronze could suffice. But for those with recurring healthcare costs or poor health, Silver or Gold plans might better suit your needs.

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How to Find Cheap Health Insurance in Iowa

Health insurance can be a hefty expense, whether you’re a family of four or a healthy individual in your 20s. But you can still find affordable health insurance in Iowa with a little homework. 

Before we get into tips for saving on health insurance, it helps to know roughly what to expect in terms of cost. Here are some average numbers to give you a better idea:

  • A family of three (one child) can expect to pay $1,435 per month
  • A family of three (two children) can expect to pay $1,766 per month
  • An individual adult can expect to pay $476 per month
  • Healthcare premiums in Iowa have increased 7% from 2022 to 2023

The good news is that you can find ways to save on your healthcare costs. Some easy tips include:

  • Explore all cost-effective options first, like employer-sponsored healthcare (through your work and your spouse’s) and government programs
  • Find out if there are any subsidies or tax credits you could be eligible for
  • Stay in network for doctors and pharmacies
  • Use your preventative care coverage
  • Opt for generic prescription drugs rather than brand name
  • Shop around for the right insurance plan every year 
  • Ask for costs upfront and ask for a discount to pay upfront and/or in cash

Most importantly, know what your policy does and doesn’t include. This way, you can avoid any surprise bills that you haven’t budgeted for. Be sure to review your coverage ahead of time, because the last thing you want to be worried about is health insurance when you’re ill. 

Want more tips to save on health insurance costs? Click here for more info. 

Get Iowa Health Insurance Quotes

If you’re ready to look into your health insurance options, start by getting access free quotes here

Note that if you’re looking for individual health insurance from the Marketplace, you can only switch plans or sign up for a plan during open enrollment (November 1 to January 15 in Iowa). However, if you’ve had a qualifying event, like a divorce, marriage, birth, etc., you can switch plans at any time. Find out more here

Getting health insurance quotes is the first step to taking your health and wellness into your own hands—great choice!

Affordable Health Insurance in Iowa is Within Reach

Everyone deserves great health insurance coverage. The good news? It’s more than possible in the Hawkeye State, no matter your income, health, age, and location. You’re just a few clicks away from exploring your health insurance options, so go ahead and click here to get started.

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