Wellmark promises to limit rate increase

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Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is promising customers hit hard by rate increases that further rate hikes will be limited.

Wellmark and its subsidiaries provide health coverage to more than two million members in Iowa and South Dakota.

The company expects to increase its 2014 rates to offset fees and taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act.  The increase is expected to be less than six percent.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Tuesday, June 18, 2013 that its 330,000 individual and small business group policyholders would not see base premiums increase in 2014 for medical or administrative reasons.

The company raised rates more than 12 percent in April 2013.  The increase hit approximately 150,000 individual policyholders, who buy health insurance on their own and not through an employer.  The 2013 increase followed a reported 9.4 percent rate hike in 2012, and 8.5 percent increase in 2011 and an 18 percent jump in 2010.

Wellmark is also offering individual members the option to extend their current health insurance coverage through December 30, 2014.  Small business groups are being provided the option to extend current coverage through November 30, 2014.

“The extension provides additional time to become more informed about what the changes in the market mean without losing the current coverage they know and trust, Said Wellmark Chariman and CEO John Forsyth.

Members and small business groups still also have the option to move to an Affordable Care Act-compliant plan with a January 1, 2014 effective date.