Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield is asking the Iowa Insurance Division to approve a rate increase on its insurance premiums for individuals of 10.8%. While much of the healthcare focus nationwide has been on the federal reform bill, Wellmark spokesman Rob Schweers says this increase has nothing to do with it.
Schweers says this is strictly changes in the base rate to adjust for projected increases in healthcare expenses. He says healthcare reform does not have an impact on this request. The company has around 85,000 individual policies, including the individual policies it provides through the Iowa Farm Bureau.
Schweers says the rate increase request is below last year’s. He says the increase last year was 18% and was also related to the cost increases they anticipated. “Obviously we are not satisfied with any increase, because we know that that is money we have to pass along to our policyholders,” Schweers says.
Schweers says health care costs paid to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies are expected to continue to increase. Schweers says a lot of the increases are related to our lifestyles and how we are living, as we’re seeing increases in diabetes cases and people are getting knees and hips replaced at an early age, and that is due in part to obesity. He says the costs of prescription drugs also continue to increase.
Another factor he says is new technology advances in health care are almost always more expensive. Schweers says the increase will put most individual premiums over the $200 mark. He says the average individual policy is about 180 dollars, so the increase would add 18 to 20 dollars and move the average to around $205 a month. The rate increase, if approved, would go into effect in April.