The Iowa Insurance Division says Wellmark’s request for a nearly 11% increase in individual insurance premiums will be the first test of a new transparency law adopted by state lawmakers last spring. The change in law came last year after Wellmark requested an 18% increase in premiums and requires the insurance commissioner to hold a public hearing on such decisions.
Iowa Insurance Division spokesperson, Tom Alger, says companies have always had to justify their requests for increases, but this will give customers a chance to speak out. “We may come across some things we feel we have to consider and people will be able to learn more and I think just become a little better educated on how the process works,” Alger says.
Alger says it is important to hear from the public on the increase, but it is also important for the company to remain in good financial shape. “If we would ever have a problem where a company was not properly funded and would go insolvent and was unable to pay claims for all or some of its customers, that’s not exactly what people buy insurance for,” Alger says.
Alger says you can e-mail or call the Consumer Advocate’s office with your concerns, or speak at the public hearing on January sixth. A spokesman for Wellmark told Radio Iowa the company has around 85,000 individual policies, which include the individual policies it provides through the Iowa Farm Bureau. He says the average individual policy is about $180, so the increase would add $18 to $20 and move the average to around $205 a month.
The rate increase, if approved, would go into effect in April.