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Insurance Company Waits Until 2015 to Join Exchange

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) – Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield writes more individuals health politics than any other underwriter in Iowa. Thousands already use their services. Thousands more might through this new state exchange program. Wellmark said Monday it wants to see out the program works, but others say the company’s hoping to get rid of its most expensive cuts.   

“In order to access new federal subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums, you must purchase on the Healthcare Exchange,” said Chief Operating Officer at CoOperative Health Cliff Gold.

Those federal subsidies are part of the Obama Affordable Care Act, helping those living near the poverty level get the medical care they need. After months of legislative wrangling over whether Iowa would buy into the program, a plan was created to offer an insurance exchange. Think of it as Hotwire for health. Plug in the numbers, find the cheapest rate quote. Just don’t look for Wellmark to be part of the solution.

“Given what we know today, we do not believe we would be in a position to ensure the exceptional service our members have come to expect from Wellmark during the first year of the exchange,” said Wellmark Spokeswoman Courtney Greene in a video statement on the company’s website.

Gold is less sure. CoOportunity Health is part of the exchange and he thinks Wellmark is more concerned with its bottom line.

“They might be able to, and this is an indelicate word, dump their worst risk into the exchange, hoping to make better profits,” said Gold.

If Wellmark’s highest risk customers, the people it may give the biggest payouts to, can find coverage in the exchange, while Wellmark sits out the first year, the company wouldn’t be responsible for them anymore. Wellmark didn’t answer the allegation head-on, but did tell us some current or potential customers might be,” better served on the exchange where they can receive subsides.”

Wellmark has said it will get into the program in 2015 after the first year. The question in when they do, how many low income Iowans will have already signed up with someone else?
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