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Wellmark announces option for its members to extend their current health insurance plans into 2016
April 16, 2014

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced today that it will offer eligible individual under-65 members and small business groups (plans with 2-50 employees) the option to extend qualified non-grandfathered health insurance coverage into 2016. The option to extend certain non-grandfathered plans (also called “grandmothering”) was recently approved for all Iowa health insurers by the Iowa Insurance Division.


“We are pleased that Governor Branstad and Commissioner Gerhart took a thoughtful approach with their decision about policy extensions to ensure the interests of Iowans were carefully considered and protected,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. “Preserving this option means that our members can continue to keep the health insurance plans they want, know and trust while still having the flexibility to move to new ACA plans if those would better meet their needs.”


Wellmark members responded positively to the policy extension the company offered in 2013 - more than 90 percent of Wellmark individual policyholders and approximately 85 percent of small business groups chose to keep and extend their plans through 2014.    


It is important for all consumers to know that Wellmark provides high quality insurance choices to members today and participates in a manner that helps to stabilize the insurance marketplace.

  • High Quality Health Insurance Products - Wellmark’s non-ACA plans provide high levels of excellent coverage including coverage of pre-existing conditions. In fact, the average actuarial value for Wellmark’s non-ACA individual and small group plans would place them as “gold level” plans on the marketplace. For comparison, the majority of consumers to date have purchased silver plans in the ACA Marketplace. Gold level plans are required to pay for approximately 80% of the cost of care (leaving 20% of the cost to the member) while Silver level plans pay approximately 70% of the cost and leave 30% to the member.
  • Level Playing Field - From a risk perspective, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) levels the field among insurers, both on and off the Marketplace, through what the ACA calls risk adjustment and risk corridors. Put simply, if one insurer has significantly more risk than another, the other insurers provide payments to them to help compensate for the additional risk they attracted.

Wellmark members who qualify for this extension will receive information from Wellmark to ensure they are informed about all of their options; including renewing their current plan as well as additional options available to them like new ACA plans and marketplace subsidies. Qualified small businesses and individual under-65 members with additional questions should consult with their licensed Wellmark representative or call the Wellmark customer service department using the phone number on the back of their Wellmark member ID card.


For more information on Wellmark products and rates, view plans.

Contact Wellmark Media Relations

Traci McBee
Phone: 515-376-4338


Teresa Roof
Phone: 515-376-5869


1331 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309-2901

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