Three things every Iowan should know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

The Affordable Care Act is a federal law, signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010, intended to significantly reduce the number of uninsured in the United States and reduce the overall costs of heath care. The ACA contains more than 2,500 pages of legislation and thousands of pages of regulations, and requires fundamental changes to the health insurance industry through a wide variety of new rules and regulations.

1.    How will the ACA affect my health plan?

That depends on the status of your health plan as “grandfathered” or “non-grandfathered” under the law. Non-grandfathered plans are required to comply with all the ACA mandates, while grandfathered plans are only required to comply with some of them. How do I know if I’m grandfathered? If your plan existed on March 23, 2010, and you did not make changes to benefits and cost-sharing arrangements beyond certain thresholds, your plan may be grandfathered. Your plan is non-grandfathered if it is either a new plan or an existing plan that changed significantly since the law was signed.

The ACA also affects plans differently depending on whether you purchase your own health plan, or you obtain your health plan through your employer, and depending on the size of your employer.

Call your Wellmark representative today to learn more about your plan’s status. To learn about the provisions and which ones affect grandfathered plans, visit

2.    How will ACA affect premiums?

The relative change to premiums for those currently covered in the individual market will vary significantly by person or family. The reason for the variation will result from the new rating restrictions that prohibit the use of gender and health status as well as limit the use of age in determining premiums.

For instance, if a carrier currently offers a discount to a healthier individual and a surcharge to a less healthy person, the new rating restriction will require the carrier to remove both the discount and surcharge. This will increase the relative premium for the healthy person and decrease the premium for the less healthy person. Likewise, additional premium impacts will result from changes to age and gender, which could add to or offset one another. In some situations, we expect the relative changes to health premiums to significantly increase for persons such as young, healthy males, while others, such as older and less healthy persons, could realize premium decreases.

What are the new rules and when do they take effect?

There are a wide variety of rules and regulations that will become effective through 2014. For more information and a look at how they will affect you, go to