Starting October 1, uninsured Iowans and small businesses should be able to shop for health care coverage on an “insurance exchange” run jointly by the State of Iowa and the federal government. Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, says he had “no real good choices,” but opted for that state/federal “partnership exchange.”

“It appears that our rates are going to be better than a lot of other states,” Branstad says.

Republican governors in Wisconsin and Indiana have imposed fees on so-called “navigators” who got federal grants to help uninsured Americans evaluate which plan offered on the “insurance exchanges” is best for them. Branstad has not done that here.

“It’s a complicated, difficult thing and a lot of people question whether the federal government has the wherewithal or the ability to make it work,” Branstad says, “but we’re going to do our level best to try to work, to give Iowans the best information possible and to make it as workable as it can be.”

Iowa’s insurance exchange will offer Iowans policies for 2014 from Coventry, a division of Aetna, and from CoOpportunity Health, a new health care cooperative. Iowa’s largest insurer, Wellmark, announced earlier this year that it would not participate in the exchange until 2015. Two other companies will offer 2014 policies through the government-run electronic exchange, but only to people who live in certain regions of the state. Two additional companies will participate in the exchange, but their policies will only be offered to small business owners who want to offer insurance coverage to their employees.