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October 05, 2015

DES MOINES, IA – Iowans will be able to purchase Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plans on Iowa’s public health insurance exchange beginning with the fall 2016 open enrollment period (for coverage starting January 1, 2017) the company announced today.

"First and foremost, the most important part of this decision was our members," said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. "We have heard their desire to have Wellmark products on the public exchange where they can access subsidies that are critical to help reduce the cost of health insurance premiums for themselves and their families."

Forsyth added that the public exchange has improved to a level where Wellmark is more comfortable and confident with participating. Wellmark has delayed its participation in the past based on a number of concerns. Those included the customer experience as well as the reliability and security of how data is transferred between the exchange, health insurers and the many government entities involved in the enrollment process. The company was also waiting for the outcome of King v. Burwell to confirm the legality — and future — of federal subsidies, which have now been upheld.

"We have said consistently that it was not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ we would join the public exchange," said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. "As a mutual insurance company, we make decisions that are in the best interest of our members — I believe we have done that today."