On July 1, 2013, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it will participate in the public health insurance exchange in Iowa beginning with the 2015 open enrollment period.

“As a mutual insurance company, we are ultimately accountable for making business decisions that serve the best interest of our members,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth.

“We continue to support health care reform and the State of Iowa has been very responsive to our questions and concerns. However, given what we know today, we do not believe during the first year of the public exchange we could ensure the exceptional level of service our members have come to expect from Wellmark. For this reason, we have decided it is in our members’ best interest to delay our participation in the public exchange until 2015.”

For consumers who desire to purchase from a locally owned and operated health insurance company, Wellmark products and services will continue to be available in Iowa through the same channels they are today, direct from Wellmark or through a qualified insurance broker.

Wellmark is committed to providing quality health insurance for years to come. Although we will not be on the public exchange initially, Wellmark has made significant investments in a new information technology platform so we can offer ACA-compliant plans in 2014, and to prepare for participation in the exchange.

Wellmark wants members to have the type of coverage they need at the cost that best fits their personal situations and budgets. That is why Wellmark recently announced it is offering its current non-grandfathered individual under-65 members and small business groups (plans with 2-50 employees) the option to extend their current health insurance coverage through Dec. 30, 2014 in the individual market and through Nov. 30, 2014 in the small group market. Those who choose to take advantage of this option will also have the security of knowing the only premium increase they will receive is one to accommodate the impact of the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) fees and taxes required by all carriers, estimated to be less than a six percent increase. Wellmark will continue to support meaningful changes in our health care system and has dedicated significant resources to implement the various ACA provisions. In addition, we remain committed to addressing the drivers of health care costs by:

  • adding more Accountable Care Organizations to help providers make the transition from fee-for-service to fee-for-value.
  • continuing the important work of the Blue Zones Project both in the demonstration sites and for all Iowans to improve quality and length of life.
  • working with our customers to find innovative ways to engage them in their health care decisions through the use of new tools and services.

Wellmark is here to help members and businesses understand how the ACA affects them and is prepared to help connect them with the appropriate resources to compare plans and weigh options. Many resources are available at Wellmark.com and WeKnowReform.com.