Obamacare works for us

Our health insurance plan administrator (the publisher) took a tour of the Affordable Care Act exchange and found out why people hate it so much: it offers competition to the incumbent health care providers in Iowa. In our case, we found that CoOpportunity Health of Iowa, a new cooperative health plan, offers a better plan with lower rates than our existing plan with Wellmark of Iowa. Wellmark is not participating in the exchange for a year, and as the holder of a near monopoly in Iowa, the Blues are playing with fire.

Wellmark might not have thought that the exchanges would make it out of the gate. They have, and most people find the same thing that we do. Prices are lower and coverage is better. We would have lower payments to visit the doctor, 50% lower family deductibles for hospitalization, and half the out-of-pocket expenses for major medical care.

We were stuck with Wellmark. We could not switch to another company because of pre-existing conditions from some of our employees, combined with age. Now, we can shop from at least three providers for health insurance. Before, we could not shop at all.

So rather than calling your congressman to urge him to defund Obamacare, you would be better off calling your insurance agent to see how much you might be better off with more competition among health insurers.

No one can be denied for pre-existing conditions. Lifetime payments are capped. With CoOpportunity we can see any doctor at any hospital we want if we purchase the highest level policy — which is cheaper than our middling Wellmark plan.

CoOpportunity probably will make a big mark in the Iowa health care market. It was founded by David Lyon, former Iowa Economic Development director and former state insurance commissioner (both under Gov. Branstad).

It appears from the early reviews that Iowa health insurance rates will be lower than the rest of the nation.

Before the Affordable Care Act, our health insurance premiums were rising at a rate of up to 68% a year. Since the act passed and became law, our rates will go down and our benefits will improve.

And we read nothing anywhere on the website about taking Granny to the electric chair because she needs a hip replacement.

The reason people lied about the Affordable Care Act is because it threatened fat monopolies. The reason they shut down the government was a last-ditch effort to kill the act, because it is tough on fat monopolies. It has nothing to do with freedom, with Grandma or with government spending. In fact, government spending is expected to go down as the uninsured sign up for care.

In a few years everyone will have forgotten how controversial the ACA was — that is, if the country doesn’t go over the brink with the current legislative brinksmanship.

If the farm bill dies

Just a reminder that the farm bill expired on Sept. 30. It’s anybody’s guess when or if a new five-year farm bill will be passed. Let’s think about what happens if the US House of Representatives gets its way and we are left with no farm bill:

• No crop insurance for farmers suffering from drought.

• No nutrition assistance for the poor, sick and elderly.

• No loans for rural water projects, starter homes in Lakeside or grants to community child care centers.

• No target prices for corn or soybeans.

• No loans or programs to open up foreign markets to US products like corn, soy, turkey and pork.

• No USDA meat inspectors, grain reports or yield estimates.

• No Extension Service offering state university research to the people.

• No funding for conservation projects that promote waterfowl production.

Those are just the things that will be immediately felt in Buena Vista County. Government is something people love to hate until the corn won’t grow and your old farm well gives out and you need clean drinking water. They hate the DNR until the agency establishes a new hunting area using federal funds.

Oh, they say, we’ll get a farm bill passed. Well, we have not. And there is no sign that we will.

And even if we do, the House wants so much funding cut ($40 billion from food stamps, not to mention conservation funding) that we must wonder what programs we listed above will remain relevant. We are attacking a program that makes agriculture and food delivery safer and more efficient, strengthening consumers and producers alike. We cannot take for granted that the farm bill’s work will endure when it appears to be about half in the grave.