Iowa Insurance Commissioner, Susan Voss, has completed a review of the rate increase on health insurance policies for Wellmark and cut the rate the company had requested. 

Tom Alger, communications director for the Iowa Insurance Division, says Wellmark requested a 10.8% increase for three of the major pools, and the commissioner ruled they should get an 8.5% increase.

Alger says the commissioner also gave Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield notice the division plans to look into two issues in the company. Alger says they have decided to look at the carrier’s market share, and whether that presents any adverse impact for Iowa consumers.

The other special issue will review the company’s holdings. Alger says they will look at the capital being held, and whether that level of capital is appropriate for the risk of the company. Wellmark argued it needed the total rate increase to maintain the capital needed to pay out claims made by customers. This was the first case where hearings were held on the requested rate increase, and Alger says the hearing added to the decision.

Alger says they found the input from consumers helpful and he says the opinions and comments “were useful in the determination of the decision to go ahead with an examination of looking at a couple of these other points.” Voss said in a statement that learning more facts from the review will be useful in considering future rate adjustment requests.

Wellmark issued a statement saying:
“We certainly respect the rate review process. Wellmark believes its rate request was justified based on rising health care costs, and our members’ projected use of health care services in the coming year. Wellmark will continue to work with the Iowa Insurance Division. We understand the Commissioner’s concern, for example, about carriers leaving the Iowa individual health insurance market. Wellmark, in fact, has lost money in this market three of the last four years. As an Iowa based company owned by its policyholders, we want all Iowans to know that our primary goal is to create a sustainable health care system that not only contains costs but improves the health of all Iowans.”

Wellmark is the state’s largest provider of of health insurance coverage for people who purchase the insurance on their own.