Well­mark will par­tic­i­pate in Iowa ex­change for 2017

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Bob Her­man

Well­mark Blue Cross and Blue Shield will start selling health plans on Iowa’s ex­change dur­ing the 2016 open-en­roll­ment pe­riod, af­ter sit­ting out the first two years.

Well­mark, Iowa’s largest in­surer, will add a pop­u­lar brand to the mar­ket­place for 2017 cov­er­age. Prob­lems have sur­faced in Iowa this year. The state’s not-for-profit plan cre­ated by the Af­ford­able Care Act folded, and over­all en­roll­ment re­mains lack­lus­ter.

About 225,000 Iowans are el­i­gi­ble for ex­change plans, but only 39,000 peo­ple, or 18% of that pop­u­la­tion, have en­rolled, ac­cord­ing to the CMS and the Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion. The low en­roll­ment was largely be­cause Well­mark did not par­tic­i­pate.

Many of Well­mark’s mem­bers have taken ad­van­tage of keep­ing non-grand­fa­thered health plans un­til 2016, a move Pres­i­dent Barack Obama made in 2013 to avoid back­lash from con­sumers who saw their pre­vi­ous poli­cies can­celed.

Five in­sur­ers—Aetna’s Coven­try sub­sidiary, Av­era Health Plans, Gun­der­son Health Plan, Med­ica and United-Healthcare — are of­fer­ing in­di­vid­ual plans on Iowa’s ex­change in this year’s up­com­ing open-en­roll­ment pe­riod, which starts Nov. 1.

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