Wellmark pledges not to raise rates in 2014


Despite raising rates multiple times over the last several years, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield announced that it won't increase premiums more than the cost to cover the reform law's fees and taxes on insurers.

Iowa's largest insurer said that about 330,000 members will see a rate increase of less than six percent, which is what it estimates the fees and taxes will amount to, according to the Business Record. But it won't increase premiums to compensate for any increases in medical or administrative costs in 2014, reported the Associated Press.

Wellmark's decision comes after raising rates by as much as 18 percent in years past, and just increased premiums by 13 percent for almost 150,000 members in April.

The move, however, was questioned by one of Wellmark's future competitors. David Lyons, CEO of CoOportunity Health, a new consumer-owned and operated health plan (CO-OP) set to enter the Iowa market, said that by not raising rates, Wellmark might be trying to discourage its members from shopping on the state's health insurance exchange, the Des Moines Register reported.

But Wellmark denied that accusation. "To the contrary, this decision provides flexibility and additional time for members to make the best health insurance decisions for them and their families," spokeswoman Courtney Greene told the Register. "We want people to get the coverage that's best for them, whether that's by keeping their current policy or purchasing an (Affordable Care Act) compliant policy."

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- see the Des Moines Register article
- check out the Business Record article

Related Articles:
Wellmark's 13% proposed rate faces strong public opposition
Wellmark launches Iowa's first ACO
Wellmark's 9.35% rate hike approved
Wellmark faces angry customers at rate hike hearing