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After Iowa withdrew its stopgap proposal, only one carrier, Medica, will remain in the individual under-65 health insurance market. That makes the enrollment period crucial for many North Iowans.

Medica has taken a 56 percent rate increase for next year, which may cause premiums to become cost prohibitive for many local residents, particularly those who do not qualify for premium subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.

“Although news of the stopgap withdrawal was disappointing, there is no need to panic,” said Bob Burns of Burns Insurance & Financial in Mason City. “There are other coverage options out there.”

Those who wish to keep traditional coverage through a carrier will need to switch to a Medica plan during this year’s open enrollment period. The window began Nov. 1 and will run through Dec. 15, making it shorter than it has been in previous years despite the large number of people who need to switch their coverage.

“Whether you plan on switching to a Medica plan or are looking for an alternative option to traditional coverage, now is the time to talk with your local agent,” said Burns. “Even with higher premiums and prices, it is important that you and your family remain protected from high medical costs.”

Iowa's proposal was submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in order to address the concerns of Iowa’s individual health insurance market. It would would have made lower cost health insurance available to many of the state's 72,000 individual health insurance purchasers.

The measure was proposed in June in response to two of Iowa’s health insurance carriers, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aetna, pulling out of Iowa’s individual health insurance market.

After months of waiting and with the open enrollment period looming, officials stated they could no longer wait for a federal decision.

“It came down to the law,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. “It just does not afford the flexibility that we need to be creative.”

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