A statewide public hearing will be held Thursday to let people voice concerns about the health insurance rate hike proposed by Wellmark. It’s part of the first test of a new transparency law adopted by state lawmakers last year after Wellmark requested an 18% increase in premiums.

Iowa Insurance Division spokesman Tom Alger says teleconference sites will be set up in nearly 30 locations statewide to give as many Iowans as possible a chance to weigh in on the proposal. He says it’s a bit of a new process for the division and they’re trying to go a little beyond what’s required by the law with things like this teleconference to reach out to people. Alger says people need to show up at the local sites and let the facilitators know they want a chance to speak.

He says the call will start out in a listen-only mode with testimony taking place at the Des Moines site which everybody can hear, then the call will be opened up for public comment going through each of the sites alphabetically. Alger says people who can’t attend the hearing can submit comments to the insurance consumer advocate.

He says the consumer advocate will also be making comments at the hearing, which starts at 9 A.M. Thursday. It will originate in Des Moines and be teleconferenced in the following cities: Ames, Anamosa, Burlington, Centerville, Cherokee, Clarinda, Corning, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Dubuque, Elkader, Estherville, Fort Dodge, Greenfield, Grundy Center, Ida Grove, Iowa City, Jefferson, Marion, Mason City, Montezuma, Muscatine, Rock Rapids, Sibley, Sioux City, Spencer, Waterloo, Waverly and Webster City. For more information, visit the Iowa Insurance Division website at: www.iid.state.ia.us.

By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City