Wellmark 2013 Proposed Rate Increase: Public Comment, Hearing Information, Public Records

As of November 7, 2012, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa has requested a rate increase amount of 12-13% for 2013.  The proposed increase for 2013 is subject to a minimum of 45 days consumer notification and a public hearing in order to allow interested parties to comment on the request.  All comments should be submitted to the Consumer Advocate.  Electronic comments may be posted in the comment link below or emailed to consumeradvocate@iid.iowa.gov .  Letters may be mail to 330 Maple Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.  Faxed comments may be sent to 515-281-3059.  All comments received will be considered part of the public record and will be submitted to the Commissioner of Insurance along with the comments from the public hearing for consideration before a final decision is made regarding Wellmark’s request.

A public hearing before the Commissioner of Insurance will be held on January 5, 2013 at 11 am.  Consumers wishing to participate in the public hearing before the Commissioner may do so at:

  • Cedar Rapids:  Kirkwood Community College, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd SW (Linn Hall, Room 2184
  • Clarinda:  Iowa Western Community College, 923 E. Washington (in Clarinda Center, Room 306)
  • Council Bluffs:  Iowa western Community College, 2700 College Road (Looft Hall, Room 024)
  • Davenport:  Davenport Public Library, 321 Main Street (ICN Room)
  • Denison:  Denison High School, 819 n 16th Street (Room 127)
  • Des Moines:  Mercy College of Health Sciences, 928 6th Ave. (Sullivan Center, Room SC210, entrance at the northeast door)
  • Dubuque:  Keystone Area education Agency 1- Dubuque, 231 Chaney Rd. (Room 2)
  • Fairfield:  Fairfield High School, 605 E. Broadway ( Room 16)
  • Fort Dodge:  Fort Dodge Public Library, 424 Central Ave. (ICN Room)
  • Mason City:  North Iowa Area Community College, 500 College Drive (Activity Center, Room 106)
  • Sioux City:  Western Iowa Tech Community College, 4647 Stone Ave. (Building A, Room D201)
  • Spencer:  Spencer Public Library, 21 E 3rd Street (ICN Room)
  • Waverly:  Waverly Public Library, 1500 W. Bremer Ave. (ICN Room)

All hearing locations will be connected through video conferencing allowing direct communication, video, and participation regardless of the specific location.

Additional documentation and public information regarding the requested proposed increase:

Application_Wellmark_Pools 3-5_2013

Application_Wellmark_2013

Application_Wellmark Farm Bureau Assocation_2013

Application_HMO_WHPI_ Farm Bureau Assocation 2013

Application_HMO_WHPI Individual_ 2013

2013 Wellmark Hearing Public Testimony and Comments Report

4-1-13 Wellmark_MM13 combined

Magnum report – Wellmark Individual

4-1-2013 Wellmark 2013 Decision with links

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381 Responses to “Wellmark 2013 Proposed Rate Increase: Public Comment, Hearing Information, Public Records”

  1. Ryan Fowler Says:

    Is this real? Does Wellmark really want the public to know they are doing this the day after the election?

  2. frank lyons Says:

    they were waiting until after the election to see if it could be applied. they got their candidate so here come the increases.

  3. Terry Says:

    A rate increase ten times that of inflation? Is there another industry so blatant? Perhaps controlling heath care costs should begin with controlling insurance costs.

  4. Betsy Hovey Says:

    Does the Wellmark BC/BS proposed premium increase ONLY apply to people who buy their own insurance? Are we, the self-insured, being unfairly targeted? Are employer-sponsored plans facing rate increases too?

    According to the January 8, 2012, Quad City Times, Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss approved a 9.5 percent rate increase for 2012 for 86,000 Wellmark BC/BS customers. It did NOT affect the 1.7 million Iowa policy holders who are covered by their employers. It only affected small business owners, retirees, part-time workers, and others who purchase healthcare directly from Wellmark.

    Wellmark had already raised these self-insurers’ rates the prior two years: 18 percent in 2010 and an 8.5 percent increase in 2011.

    I am self-insured, and Wellmark wants to increase my rate by 12.2 percent for 2013. According to the ”Notice of Proposed Base Premium Rate Increase and Public Hearing” form I received Nov. 10, 2012, my premium is going up because of higher costs by policy holders ”in my class.”

    Do the self-insured really get sick more often than policy holders covered by their employers? Do we really use healthcare services more? Do hospitals charge us more for an x ray?

    Or is Wellmark trying to milk every last drop the only way they know how before the Affordable Healthcare Act goes into effect in 2014—by unfairly penalizing the self-insured.

  5. linda rodgers Says:

    Have never voiced my opinion except to family about my health insurance. I’m 63 relatively healthy, work 3 days a week as a certified pharmacy technician. My husband health insurance would cost us 10 yrs ago $1200.00 a Month, so we decided that I would look for individual health insurance. I started out paying Less than $300.oo per month within 8 yrs IT WAS $720.00 per month for ME. My husband has since left his position but they allowed him to stay on there insurance. His is $580 a month. WHO CAN AFFORD TO PAY $1300.00 a month so u can go to see a dr. when ill or if u need hospital coverage??? BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD HAS NO IDEA OR CARES HOW ANY MIDDLE CLASS PERSON PAYS FOR HIS OR HER INSURANCE, THEY JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE GETS THEIR FAT RAISES AND PAY FOR THEIR OFFICES. I lowered my deduct to $5000.00 so my monthly was now ONLY a mere $492.50 a month, and they AGAIN want to raise it????
    Seriously what is wrong with a company that scews the middle class so they can make deals with the government and ALL TITLE 19 people can get FREE JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING FREE and I have to get all my medication in generic forms but they have to GET NAME BRAND DRUGS because their SO CALLED BENIFITS ALLOW THEM TO DO SO??? EVERYDAY THIS HAPPENS AND THEY COME DAILY BECAUSE ITS FREE OH WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE??? WE ALL SHOULD GO ON GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE AND THEN THE INSURANCE BUSINESS WOULD BE OUT OF BUSINESS EXCEPT TO MAKE DEALS THAT WOULD ALSO INCLUDE US. OH maybe we could also get our housing paid for and get free cell phones and free dental care, guess they pay for braces also? THE PEOPLE IN THERE LITTLE GLASS HOUSES need to stop. I WOULD LIKE MY INSURANCE TO BE BASED ON MY HEALTH, NOT THE OTHER PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE THAT DO NOT TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES AND I’M PUNISHED FOR THERE PROBLEMS. IT NEEDS SOME SERIOUS BACK TO SCRACH! Why r we getting burned because the health insurance BC/BS don’t like what their hearing about the new health laws. When is enough enough???????????

  6. Dawn Pope Says:

    Dear Sir, I received a “notice of proposed base premium rate increase.” I am so upset about a possible increase. I DEFINATELY oppose another increase. I pay the insurance for myself & husband. I make less than $32,000.00 a year. To pay the monthly insurance bill, it takes almost my whole pay check. My insurance costs me almost $700.00 a month. My husband is lucky to even work 40hrs a week. And he makes less than me. How are we to keep our insurance? If these insurance companies continue to increase their rates, only the “rich” will be able to afford them. I really can’t see any “light” at the end of this tunnel with all these increases. PLEASE! Say “no” to the increase. And talk to others that will vote on this increase. Ask them to vote “NO!!!” Thank you. Sincerely, Dawn D. Pope

  7. Terry Butikofer Says:

    First of all we need to get a few things straight-none of this increase goes to the cost of care-it all goes to administrative costs & profit-all that other crap they mention doesn’t apply. It is all for the CEO’s. They will ask for it every year-they call it a cost of living increase-how many of us get this. That is why I strongly recommend the commisioner to refuse the request-they are already at profit levels way above 400%.

  8. Marci Guzman Says:

    I am unable to attend the meetings listed, as we live quite a ways away. But would like to voice my opinion.

    I feel that our premiums are so outrageously high now. My husband’s alone is over a thousand dollars a month. We are self employed and pay it all out of pocket. Mine is considerably less but with a $3300 deductible.

    This request for a 13.3% increase is extremely high. And with the
    economy the way that it is, we cannot afford this kind of increase.
    Please consider a much smaller increase or none at all for once. Every year gets worse and worse.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Sincerely,
    Marci Guzman

  9. Amy Skibbe Says:

    To whom it may concern, I have been with Welmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa for many years through the different companies I worked for. I recently took on a personal policy as I started my own business and needed to still carry coverage. When I originally signed up my fee was $364 per month. There has been an increase each year since and I am now paying $461.00 per month for a single policy. My coverage is not even that great of coverage. I want to stay with Welmark but you can not keep raising these rates. The average person can not afford it – even I can not justify paying that much for a single policy that is as bare-bones as they come.

    Please reconsider this increase. I will be forced to find another carrier if this goes through.
    Thank you for your consideration.

  10. Bryan Claude Says:

    I just think that they are going to have to live within their means.. We are out here in small town iowa and we just cannot afford any more rate increases.

    cm

  11. Dennis C. LaFoy Says:

    WHY do we have to be subject to a base rate increase? Our premium just got increased last year. What is going on with this insurance company? I DO NOT believe that Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa is that hard up for money. This is one of the most substantial insurance companies in the U.S. We the hard working consumers CAN NOT keep being able to afford increase after increase. I am not complaining about the service that my family and myself receive mind you, but I just cannot keep going like this. I am self employed and believe me this past couple of years have been VERY rough. I have a family and am trying very hard to keep my head above water. Please take in consideration the MANY, MANY hard working customers that are struggling and cannot and will not be able to afford this increase.

  12. Rochelle Simons Says:

    Consumer Advocate,

    I just received a letter stating Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa is asking The Iowa Insurance Commissioner permission to increase the base premium rates by 13.30%. The letter states premiums may still increase because of rating characteristics. What will the increase percent be if the base rate AND rating characteristics are both increased?

    Quite frankly, I cannot afford to pay over $600.00 per month for an insurance plan for a single 54 year old healthy female. I moved to Florida seven years ago. It was recommended by my agent at Farm Bureau to keep my Iowa policy as it would be cheaper than a Florida plan. I took his recommendation. Last year I attempted to change my plan by raising the deductible in order to lower the premium. I was informed I could not make any alterations to my plan because I am not a resident of Iowa. I do not understand this, they cash my checks every three months.

    I believe the majority of people will not be able to afford this increase. Instead of raising our premiums, why don’t they negotiate with the doctors and hospital institutions? I recently had allergy tests performed. I was in the doctor’s office for less than 2 hours. The bill came to $1,094.00. The breakdown is as follows:

    Office Medical Care $792.00
    Consultation $200.00
    Office Medical Care $102.00

    Because I went to a PPO doctor, discounts were applied. The charges were:

    Office Medical Care $537.00–Network Discount $220.00
    Consultation $199.71–Network Discount $ 0.29
    Office Medical Care $ 60.09–Network Discount $ 41.91

    Are you kidding me, twenty nine cent network savings on the consultation?? The doctor spent no more than 20-30 minutes off an on throughout the appointment. I would be happy to fax you a copy of the explanation of benefits I received from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

    Another charge I recently heard of was a hospital charging $69.00 for the use of an oximeter to measure blood oxygen in an emergency room. $69.00 to clamp it on your finger to get a reading??? What next, the hospitals will start charging for the use of the cuff when they take your blood pressure? The doctors and hospitals are abusing the insurance companies at our expense and have been doing so for a very long time. When will it ever end?

    I was recently informed that any Urgent Care Center or Walk in Clinic affiliated with a hospital will start charging emergency room charges. I thought the reason for the walk in clinics were to leave the real emergencies to the hospital. Instead of my $35.00 co-pay, I will be forced to pay $100.00.

    I understand hospitals are in the business to make money, but their charges are unreasonable. Reasonable doctor and hospital charges are what need to be re-evaluated and negotiated. The gouging needs to stop. An increase to premiums will be unfair and unreasonable.

    Should this increase pass, I will become one of the millions and millions of people who can no longer afford health insurance and will be forced to cancel my policy.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Rachelle Simons

    cm

  13. June Lackore Says:

    My premium is very expensive, even without a 12.20% increase.

    I believe I’m discriminated against because I am proactive in healthcare related decisions. What does this mean? When my 48-year old sister had a stroke and it was determined a genetic condition known as Factor V Leiden was a contributing factor, along with taking oral contraceptives. I decided to be tested for the condition.

    I tested positive, sought consultation from an oncologist on other clotting disorders and stopped taking oral contraceptives to decrease my risk for a stroke. Now, I’m considered a “high risk” to health insurance companies, even though I took responsible action. I would have been better off being irresponsible and not having been tested. My daughter, a healthy 18-year old, also tested positive, so has to pay a higher premium, as well.

    Could I receive a listing of other health insurance companies who provide coverage in Iowa? It seems that I won’t be able to pay Wellmark premiums much longer. MS

  14. Keith Wright Says:

    Has Wellmark’s cost of doing business truly escalated by 12.2% since its last rate increase? Where is this increase coming from? How long can we as a nation sustain these inevitable increases on Wellmark’s part? MS

  15. William Barnett Says:

    Me and my wife are on fixed income… Three years in a row wellmark has applied for rate increases and have received them. Seems like that it there is an age discrimination since the letter has it in bold in letter. All the other consumer insurance companies have only raised rates by 5 percent in past year. Why does wellmark have to increase rates when they have so many more consumers.

    cm

  16. Karl Seggerman Says:

    Hello,
    I received the recent mailing from Blue Cross about another rate increase for my health insurance. I started the policy in December of 2009 at which time the rate was $215.05 per month. The rate increased to $251.65 per month in April 2011 (17% from the starting rate). The rate increased to $280.65 per month in April 2012 (30.5% from the starting rate).

    Now it appears that BCBS has requested another rate increase of 12.2% of my base rate. The letter does not provide a clear explanation of how much the actual monthly rate will increase. The letter indicates that an increase of $185.42 would be a 26.71% increase in my base rate (Medical Services). $14.92 would be a 2.15% increase in my base rate (AdminExp & Taxes) and ($115.61) would be a 16.66% decrease in my base rate (Operating Margin).

    Given these numbers, I assume this means my base rate must be about $694 and it must be on an annual basis. If I carry this assumption forward my annual rate will increase by $84.73 ($7.06 per month). If I have interpreted this correctly the monthly premium will increase to approximately $287.71 (33.8% from the starting rate). Have I interpreted this correctly? If not what exactly is BCBS trying to communicate?

    Karl Seggerman
    cm

    • kevin watts Says:

      I too am extremely confused by the funny math that is used by Wellmark. They claim my rate increase is 13.3 %. however, it also says my premium of 348 will increase to 418. That considerably more than 13.3%.

  17. Linda Brecht Says:

    We can hardly believe we are having to write a letter again this year about an insurance increase. We are almost at a lost for words. The past 5 years our insurance has increased significantly. We currently pay for everything–and only have catastrophic coverage with a $2500 on each of us. This increase for us puts us at over a 150% increase in 4 years with 0 claims.This cannot continue. It will make many individuals and families drop coverage which then really puts a burden on the medical system as well as the country ‘s economical system.

    We all have to live within our means. The same should be expected of BCBS. They may have to trim some costs and personnel like the rest of the country has had to live through the last 4 years. I would like demand a lot of things as well. I would like to demand that all schools be funded the way they need to be. I would like to demand teacher pay be competitive with other professions. I would like to demand that farmers get fair prices. I would like to demand all pay their fair share of taxes. I would like to demand that higher education be funded appropriately and students not be a $100,000 in debt at their college graduation.

    Wellmark is demanding and stating they need another increase for…. possible… administrative…. operating margin…..PLEASE!!! Wellmark has to tighten up their belt like the rest of us and work within their means.

    We are not to naive to believe and understand that technology costs, medical research costs etc. The tipping point is that those individuals don’t need to be allowed to continue to have lush lifestyles at our cost!!!

    Please say no to the proposed increased and yes to the fact that BCBS needs to reign itself in and be responsible.MS
    Respectfully Submitted
    Jim and Linda B.

  18. Hal Masover Says:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    My family consists of myself, 61 years of age, my wife, 60, and my son, 25. We have no chronic illnesses in our family. We carry a very high deductible ($7,000) and so have not made a claim on our health insurance.

    Two years ago, in October, 2010, my quarterly payment on my insurance was $1,598.40.

    My most recent quarterly payment, in September, 2012, was $2,089.20.

    That is a 30% increase in 2 years.

    My 2011 AGI was $21,962. With no additional increases, my current insurance payment represents 38% of my pre-tax income. I do not have another expense that comes close to this. And this is for insurance that I have been paying years worth of premiums and do not use.

    And now they are asking for a larger portion of my income.

    I do understand that my income falls below the average. According to the Iowa Department of Human Services http://www.dhs.state.ia.us/Partners/Reports/PeriodicReports/MedianFamilyIncome.html, the average annual 2011 income for a family of 3 was $61,657. If my earnings were average, my current insurance premium would represent 13.5% of my income. Given my $7,000 deductible, that is a very large portion.

    If they are granted their request for a 12.2% rate raise, my premium would go up to $2,344 per quarter, which would be 15% of the average Iowa income, and 42.6% of my income.

    The simple fact is, no matter what Wellmark’s justifications are for asking for a rate increase, this Iowa family cannot afford them, and given the figures above, I believe this statement is representative of a large number of Iowans.

    I urge you to deny their request.

    Sincerely,

    Hal Masover
    cm

  19. V. Weuve Says:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Every year Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield raise their health insurance rates, always at a high percentage rate. This has got to stop!!! Insurance rates are already high. Even with my employer paying part of my monthly premium, I still pay $180.00 out of my own pocket. At some point there needs to be a cap, or limit on the percentage amount they can raise rates year after year. Why does the insurance commissioner allow this to continue? I STRONGLY encourage whomever makes the decision to allow such increases to look hard at the OVERALL picture of the insurance company. EVERY year the Executives receive HUGE bonuses, along with other perks. At who’s expense? The taxpayers/policyholders! What will happen when the healthcare reform act goes into effect in 2014 MANDATING everyone must purchase health insurance? Most people cannot afford the ongoing increases in health insurance premiums year after year. I am PLEADING with you to STOP, and DISALLOW this proposed increase in April 2013.

    cm

  20. Blaine DeGroot Says:

    I do not agree with the Proposed Base Premium Rate Increase of 12.2%. For sure the last 3 years Wellmark has Increased the Base Premium, mine alone has increased close to $100 in the past three years and $170 if this proposal goes through for 2013. I am only 28 years old and with these increases I along with many others will have to look for alternative options for health insurance. I think we need to look at Wellmarks financial statement for the last years and ask ourselves if they need this rate increase to remain a successful business or if they just want the increase their wealth.

    Thank you
    Blaine De Groot
    MS

  21. Ryan Hannigan Says:

    Effectively we are being priced out of insurance. 4 Years ago we had a policy for three members of our family: my wife, my son and myself, we paid less than $275/month. Now we still have three people, my two sons and myself(my wife is covered under work) and we pay over $400 for the same coverage. We pay $500 for our rented house, and we are now looking at another rate increase. Rates have been raised every single year. Twice I believe in 2011. If this continues, we will be priced out of private insurance. Not being political, but since the Affordable Health Care Act was passed, our Insurance has gone from reasonably affordable to grossly out of hand. At this rate, by 2014 our insurance for three members of our family will cost more than the house we live in. Simply stated we can’t afford this.
    Ryan Hannigan
    cm

  22. Terry Says:

    Wellmark’s premium increases for individual policies are averaging over 10% annually (least for the past 4 yrs). Are the rates for employer provided insurances also up that 10% or are individual policy holders the easy target. Last year the increases went to dividends and retained earning – had nothing to do with costs of treatment. Why should we expect a Consumer Advocate or Insurance Commissioner to act on behalf of Iowans this year, given their decisions of the past?

    Any increase should be for only inflationary costs of diagnosis and treatments. Pay raises, dividends, 401k contributions,etc. should all be excluded in any calculation of premium increase. Same rate increase should apply to business sector that applies to an individual policy holder.

  23. Melanie Holtan Says:

    We were horrified to see that Wellmark BCBS wants to increase our premium rates again; this seems to be a regular event! Due to their extremely high rates we had to put our two youngest children living at home on the state plan (Title 19) which we did NOT want to do. We are reasonably healthy adults, currently paying Wellmark $6,474 per year for insurance premiums for the two of us. We switched our plan from the gold (best) to the bronze plan to keep our costs down a couple of years ago. We were just informed by a health care provider that Wellmark BCBS has raised our co-pay from $35 per visit to $50 (it was $25 or $30 when we started this plan)!! Not only have they just raised our co-pay again, we have paid $5,670 out of pocket so far in 2012 for lab work, prescriptions, eye care, chiropractic, and basic health care that insurance did not cover – and we didn’t have ANY major health issues! That’s $12,144 out of pocket for medical expenses so far in 2012 for the two of us!! We would love to get our children OFF Title 19 and be able to pay affordable healthcare premiums WITHOUT the government’s involvement, but how can that happen when health insurance continues to rise to extreme levels! Expenses for everything seem to be getting out of hand! More government involvement is NOT the answer!!!

    PLEASE put a stop to the continuing rise of health care premiums!!! I suspect WELLMARK (or the health care system) is padding someone’s pocket at our expense. PLEASE investigate their numbers in depth, and DO NOT agree to raise our premiums again!

    Melanie Holtan
    MS

  24. ARTHUR LURNDAL Says:

    I object to the proposed increase of 12.2% in base premium rates to the Wellmark health insurance. Our representatives in government ‘s objective is to lower health care costs, and should resist this effort to increase the Wellmark bottom line at the expense of the policy holders in this climate. MS

  25. Brandon Stalzer Says:

    I feel compelled to write as I have received notice of yet another increase in the cost of my health insurance.
    I think increasing the base premium rate will be terrible for iowa families. This would mark the 3rd time in 2012 that I have had my families insurance premium go up.
    How many times is this going to go up? We cannot continue down this path. My family and I are young and I cannot imagine what older iowans or those who are sick are paying.
    Thoughts of “going it without health insurance” have entered my mind and I think that is just a sad state of affairs for one of the “most prosperous nations in the world.”

    I am not ignorant. I know that costs are going up and its not always as easy to keep premiums down. I dont have answers. But I cant help but think the whole system is flawed.
    My family’s premiums are close to going over $14000 a year for a family of 3. A few years ago we were well under $9000. Granted, we do have a low deductible…..but what good is having health insurance
    at all if you are forced into a huge deductible? Huge deductibles prevent people from getting care immediately. Maybe thats good for the system, but thats not what should be put first. People
    should be put first. With a huge deductible we may as well call it what it is…..catastrophe insurance…..not health insurance. Unfortunately, I think more and more people are falling into the catastrophe insurance
    category. Sad. Very Sad.

    Brandon Stalzer
    BCBS policy holder since 2004
    MS

  26. Julie Fairweld Says:

    i call every year, commissioner is in co-hoots with Wellmark. Does no good to go to the hearing always approved. What about 2% about what our raises are. Why need 12% It’s just a screw job isn’t right. Let’s just quit our job and go on the state. Forced to quit our insurance then the stae will need to take care of us. MS

  27. Jerry J Wiedemeier Says:

    Dear Consumer Advocate,

    I have the privilege of being on both ends of insurance. As a Chiropractor my reimbursement rates by all insurance companies have remained stagnant for many years irregardless of my increasing cost of doing business, inflation or state of the economy. Since I am an independent businessman I have little to no say about my reimbursement rates as well as have little choice but to maintain my Wellmark contract since they have 80% of the market. My only solution, especially during the last rough 4 years, has been to tighten my own belt, accept less profits and become leaner. I have a hard time thinking that Wellmark has considered cutting any of their employees wages 30% like they do mine!

    As a purchaser of insurance I refer back to my previous paragraph. The last 4 years have been difficult and, as we have seen through this last election campaign, incomes have fallen, more people are out of work. This is not an appropriate time for a company to be looking to raise rates/costs to consumers when the economy is in such shambles and I have doubts they have looked to tightening their own belts.

    Therefore, no they should be denied a rate increase.

    Sincerely,

    Jerry J Wiedemeier, DC
    cm

  28. Bill and Mary LaHay Says:

    We respectfully request that you not approve Wellmark’s request to increase their rates by as much as 13.3% in January. We’ll plan to attend the Jan. 5 public meeting.
    Thank you.
    MS

  29. Carmal Allworth Says:

    Please vote NO on the possible premium rate increase. We are being charged more then ever with yearly increase’s, for every birthday we have each year. Then our insurance company will not even pay for treatments, blood test, and or medicines. Please stop the Highway robbery of all Insurance company’s. It is because of the outrageous pricing that we are now looking at Obama-care. Had they stayed at reasonable pricing, and had not gnawed, and cut throat the people, then we would not be in this predicament, that we are all now finding ourselves in….. Bleeding every dime from the people, individuals that merely seek help. Seek to make our state better then other states, seek to help the people of Iowa.MS
    Thank you, Carmal Allworth

  30. Gordon and Darcy Taylor Says:

    Dear Sir/Madam;
    This is in response to your notification of a public hearing on the subject rate increase on January 5, 2013. Since my wife nor I cannot attend this hearing, I would like the following comments to be considered as part of these proceedings.
    The principal concern is the impact of the Affordable Care Act (so called Obamacare) on the cost of Medical Services (11.81% proposed increase). The recent election led to a range of cost predictions ranging from large increases to savings in the cost of care by the various providers. Also there is an activity to establish a State Insurance Exchange which in theory will provide a basis for establishing cost comparisons between insurance providers. It would appear that there is a great deal of uncertainty in what the cost of providing Medical Services will, in fact, turn out to be. That being the case it would seem that any rate increase request by any insurer at this time is premature. It was stated in your letter that the Commissioner on Insurance would review the request to determine if Wellmark followed industry approved standards to calculate the proposed increase. I would not only question the use of such standards but the relevance of such standards in light of the aforementioned changes in the health care industry.
    The next troubling item was the duration of the rate increase, namely from April 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013. Does this imply that another rate review is to be planned for the beginning of 2014? If in fact that is correct then I would suggest that the current rate review be postponed until the latter part of 2013 when there will be a much better data base for justifying any increase. This essentially puts Wellmark in a potential position where they could lose some revenue for 9 months which is preferable to the situation the policy holders face due to economic uncertainties within the current economy.
    To summarize, we would take exception to any rate increase at this time due to the uncertainties that prevail relating to the cost of providing health insurance.
    Respectfully
    Gordon Taylor
    Darcy Taylor
    MS

  31. LuAnn Short Says:

    I have no idea why I am even sending this, the commissioner hasn’t listened to the people in the last three years, if not more.
    What does it take to understand us. WE CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE!!!!! In order to afford insurance, we pay over $1,000
    a month for just my husband and I, we have to fore go even seeing the Dr. We have dental but can’t afford to have our teeth cleaned.
    The insurance company put a rider on my eye’s so now I can’t afford to even get my eye’s checked (my mother has glaucoma).

    Social Security recipients are getting an increase so everybody and their brother is asking for an increase. Ask any senior citizen and
    they will probably tell you they don’t want a raise because they can’t afford it.

    When is this going to stop? When the people are too broke paying politicians and commissioners salaries. When is this commission going
    to work for the people and stand up and say “not this year”.

    This is the third time in as many years I have sent an email but unlike the last two years I have no illusions the commission will listen to
    the people and deny Wellmark an increase. But please go ahead and prove me wrong.

    LuAnn Short
    cm

  32. Mike Jarrell Says:

    There was an increase on April 1, 2012 with an option to pay the increase of $16.10 or choose a cheaper policy. Now, due to cost of class, another projected increase of 13.30% or $53.88 per month.

    I have a problem with this rate increase based on the generalized reasoning behind the explanation. It seems excessive and if given an option to downgrade in order to prevent the increase I don’t feel that Wellmark is focused on care but on bottom line.

    My wife who holds the policy has not had a change in characteristics, nor has she used the benefits since everything is paid by her until deductible is covered. I am in disagreement with the increase as it does not appear to be justified.

    cm

  33. Karl Young Says:

    If this rate increased is approved in January rates will have increased 40 percent in three years. How do they expect the elder people on a fix income to survive it’s not right. We only get an increase of 2 percent for our income but 13 for insurance.

    cm

  34. Dr. James Steer Says:

    I say no to the approval because we are Entering this new phase of health care. With the Obama care going in place we should have the market dictate increase or decrease of rates.
    cm

  35. Kathy Shekleton Says:

    I think its ridiculous what we pay. We pay out of pocket for health insurance as we don’t have jobs that provide health insurance. No matter if other people are using health insurance more we are not and its not our problem.

  36. James Oberhoffer Says:

    I think that the insurance companies are always asking for more more more and its ridiculous. I say no no no to the increase. They need to negotiate during the buying of insurance instead of taking the money away from people who need it.

    cm

  37. Thomas Weatherford Says:

    Last year I turned 55 they took around 30 percent and now they are asking for another 12.2 percent. I don’t understand why they are asking for another increase. In Ft Dodge 2011 or 2010 the CEO of our Hospital made over a million dollars in a year. It just doesn’t make sense that our CEO are making more than the President of the United States.
    cm

  38. Kathy Shekleton Says:

    I think its ridiculous what we pay. We pay out of pocket for health insurance as we don’t have jobs that provide health insurance. No matter if other people are using health insurance more we are not and its not our problem. MS

  39. Kris Ziegmann Says:

    I am writing to object to the proposed insurance premium increase. Our insurance is not covered by an employer.
    We pay our own insurance from our paycheck. Our paycheck has not increased to accomodate any increase. I do not know how on earth we can keep paying all the increases when our wage does not increase. This is a hardship for most families who pay their own insurance personally.
    I ask you to PLEASE DENY THIS INCREASE!!
    Kris Ziegmann
    MS

  40. April Loomis Says:

    We are completely opposed to this increase. We already pay enough as it is. We have to use the Hawkeye plan to pay for our children. I understand inflation and everything, However it’s getting to the point where we won’t be able to afford our insurance. It’s not right.

    cm

  41. Joan Johnson Says:

    We respectfully request the Iowa Insurance Commissioner deny permission for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield to increase its base premium rates again.

    It seems Wellmark has used the hype regarding health care to give them the opportunity to continue to increase the rates, which in turn provides them with increased profits, the ability to build new buildings and increase upper management wages and bonuses.

    I do not think that is what health care reform was meant to accomplish.

    It is hard to believe that another increase of double digits is warranted for the consumer. They have done this for the past 3 years. Young people are being forced to increase their deductible to amounts where they are neglecting their health care or have dropped their insurance entirely. It appears from reports that if you don’t have insurance the government will pay 95%, so it seems insurance is unnecessary.

    My children are grown and have young children of their own. They all have jobs and all are healthy and non-smokers and pay their own insurance. For the insurance companies to continue to take advantage seems extremely unfair. We are all willing to assist the less fortunate, but these increases are no longer affordable and we are all looking for alternatives.

    Can an audit be done of Wellmark books to justify where these additional costs are coming from; building improvements, bonuses, or actual consumer medical costs? Possibly, they could do some budget work on their salary structure. Unfortunately, in the not so distant past, we have learned of companies funding large profits for “themselves” on the back of the consumer. I would hope Blue Cross/Blue Shield is not one of those.

    Another thought would be to review the individual policies and those that do not use their insurance should be offered special rates, similar to auto insurance.

    When my children were college age and not married, we had to get a separate insurance policy for them, but it was affordable. Possibly the people with children of college age and under 26 would be willing to pay an small increase for their insurance to allow the child to remain on the policy, but should my children, who have only small children at this time, have to pay for this? I am sure as their children enter into this age group, they would be willing to pay their share of this, but it is difficult for them now as they are just getting their lives together.

    I have had Blue Cross/Blue Shield my entire working life, which has been 50 years, and was so extremely happy with their coverage and it was affordable. I understand they run a business, like many of us, but we are not in the business of needing an exhorbit amount of profit. Everyone is taking a hit with this economy and why should the insurance companies be exempt.

    We are in the process of re-evaluating insurance coverage now and are going to need to look for an alternative.

    Please reject the increase they are propo sing. There must be another way without continuing to gouge the consumer.

    Best Regards,
    Joan
    MS

  42. DEBRAH JORGENSEN Says:

    I am a widow and I DO NOT want Wellmark to raise their premiums!
    cm

  43. Tracey Lundvall Says:

    Me and my husband can barely afford 800 a month for insurance and could not afford it the rate is increased. I could barely afford the insurance while working two jobs. I thought that this new health care was supposed to be better how can it be if it causes increased debt. It is either feed my family or pay insurance. I am feeding my children.
    cm

  44. Debbie Schimdt Says:

    We wont be able to afford the health insurance if they approve the increase. We already pay 8,000 a year. We can barely make the 2100 perium now. This is why we dropped blue cross last time becasue they just kept increasing increasing and increasing. I mean wow. My husband is self employed and this is killing people like us. We make too much to quailify for assistance and we are currently struggling now. I dont want to be one of those people who cannot afford health care but that is what is happening to my family. It just makes me sick. I open this letter and I am about in tears here.

  45. Bob and Deb Coulter Says:

    I just received the letter saying that BCBS want to increase the rate by over 12%. I am already paying over $247 a month on insurance for me alone and to get an increase I would have to cancel it. I am in business for myself and cannot afford an increase especially when they have put riders on everything that I have for a year and they don’t cover anything. I went to see a dr. who is in Sioux City but he goes to Sac City once a month so I decided to go to Sac and the insurance company didi not cover it because he does not rent a room at the hospital so I either have to go to Sioux City or Pocahontas both are over 1 hour away just so the insurance will cover it and now they want an increase. What a bunch of crock. If they are going to increase the rate then they need to start paying for more things. I am tired of wasting my money and not getting anything in return for paying premiums. I am dead set against an increase and if you are agreeing with them then there is something wrong with you tol.
    Deb Coulter

    MS

  46. Amanda McGeough Says:

    I disagree with the rate increase as they seem to happen quite often. I will need to shop for health insurance elsewhere.

  47. John Pearce Says:

    I think that the rate increase is too much. We just had a rate increase. Its– WOW. Why do they have to increase every year. Why can’t it be based on the amount of usage on each policy. My kids are very healthy and hardly go to the doctor. Some people don’t and we should not have to pay for that.

  48. Terry Says:

    FACTS for the Commissioner and Consumer Advocate to consider:

    My 2012 YTD billed medical expenses (hospital, doctor, pharmacist) total $1914.68.
    My out of pocket expense has been $545.36 (28.5%)
    Insurance plan paid $652.49 (34.1%)
    Plan savings – $716.83 (37.4%)
    Premium paid for same time period – $2846.80

    Considering 37.4% of invoices went unpaid as plan savings, Wellmark actually paid 54.5% of my medical costs. That’s $2194.31 less than they received in my premium. In other words, for every dollar they spent paying on my claims, they pocketed $3.36 from my premium.

    Given a 13% increase in cost, Wellmark would pay an additional $84.82 for the same treatments next year. The 13% in premium will add another $444.10 to my premium. That’s another $359.28 Wellmark will pocket ($4.23 for every $1 in claims paid).

    From $3.36 to $ $4.23 (nearly a 26%) in after claims revenue for every $1 paid in claims. TWENTY SIX PERCENT – that’s double what Wellmark suggests is needed in increases.

    A more appropriate increase would be 7%, which would maintain Wellmark profitability.

    Don’t let Wellmark pull the wool over your eyes! They deserve to be profitably, but if you dig into the numbers you’ll find Wellmark’s explanation for a 13% increase is wholly inflated and uses numbers that are not applicable to their actual costs.

    Actuarials never use real numbers, only the figures supplied by the insurance company. If real numbers were used the results would be quite different.

    Don’t be duped! Wellmar doesn’t need another annual double digit increase in premiums.

  49. Dennis Jarnigin Says:

    The increase isn’t fair to me I pay my own insurance and Blue Cross is offering Fed employees FREE new services. Our taxes are paying for them… Don’t approve of this rate increase..MS

  50. Tim Westemeyer Says:

    It is to my understanding that the reason for these proposed increases are so the insurance companies can ramp up for the 2014 government-mandates of Obamacare. I heard this from several insurance agents. It is truly sad that this has to happen on the backs of the hard working middle class. I sure they will tell you something different like increased cost of medical treatment or something like that. Please reconsider this rate increase and reject this increase.

  51. Charles and Marvis Widlund Says:

    No rate increase Shouldn’t be any higher than the cost of living rates.. Charles and Marvis Widlund
    MS

  52. kevin beck Says:

    Every year Blue Cross and probably every health insurance provider ask for a increase in premiums yet most Americans never get a wage increase. Maybe the CEO’s should make the same amount we make then they would MAYBE understand . I am 54 years old and have never collected a penny from them yet every year there is a increase ; Our insurance system. needs an overhaul. I definately am going insurance shopping since there will be a increase every year with Wellmark Blue Cross MS

  53. Rick Humiston Says:

    Sirs
    I would like to make a statement against the rate increase. My rates went up about 10 per cent this calender year, an additional 12.2% in april 2013 brings it to almost 25% in one years time. Have they cut anything (other than my benufits) to control this cost increase. This can’t keep going up like this and still be affordable. I know healh care costs keep going up but I don’t believe they are going up as fast as my premiums. This policy is very nearly unafordable now, this increase would push it out of reach for me and many others like me.

    In conclusion what has anybody done to balance wellmark’s income and expense except raise my rates. They have give some also

    American Work Horse LLC
    MS

  54. Margaret Matter Says:

    Hello,

    My husband is 63 and I am 57. Since we are married, BCBS requires us to carry a family policy despite the fact that our children are no longer at home (age 26, 28,and 29) We both had cancer 10 years ago with no re-accurance. We are very healthy, normal weight, non-smokers who exercise almost daily. Despite our current good health our premiums are $1890/month. This is a scary number as we try to prepare for retirement.

    I would like to see a cap on the size of the premiums. I fear how a raise in the base premium rates would effect us. Please consider how an across the board raise would effect people on the higher end of premiums. MS

    Decorah, Iowa

  55. Dorothy Malcom Says:

    VOTE NO FOR INSURANCE RATE INCREASES DOROTHY MALCOM

  56. Bruce Fink Says:

    The Federal COLA was recently announced at 1.7%. How can they justify 12.2%? Even the Administrative and Margin increases combined are greater than 1.7%.

    Their December 2010 balance sheet shows a 63% equity to assets ratio. Also information from their web site shows a decrease in physician visits of 5% and hospital days of 14% from 2006 to 2010. Their income statement indicates that they received over a one million dollar refund in federal income taxes in 2010 while still making a 33 million dollar profit.

    Year in, year out we have had to absorb increased premiums with basically no recourse on our part other than to increase our deductible. Please reduce this to the 1.7% amount and tell them to not have an increase in margin. MS

  57. Marlus Jaqer Says:

    My husband and I definately do not want a rate increase. I have experienced an increase every year for the past two years I have had this policy. Thus I have changed my coverage each year to handle my payments. If it comes to dropping health ins. I will. My income does not increase this much. Does yours? If so you are being over payed. All I can say is Stop It! This does not have to be done every year! Enough! Be realistic! I do not want to hear any excuses! I will drop my ins. Then you have no money coming from me. Stop It! MS

  58. Barbara Erickson Says:

    Interestingly, in reading all of the posted comments on the proposed rate increase there is not one that supports it, and my husband and I join the chorus. We too have experienced exactly what other people have described and cannot understand how Wellmark thinks this increase is justified. What I find particularly disheartening is that the IID always seems to support Wellmark and not the people of Iowa. Also disheartening is the fact that Wellmark has little competition within the State for those of us who are self-insured. We cannot wait to be of Medicare age and have more options for supplemental insurance than BC/BS ~ we will NOT purchase our supplements through them.
    MS
    Barbara Erickson
    Fort Dodge, IA

  59. Sonya Gilbert Says:

    My husband retired 3 yrs ago went with Wellmark cost us $700.00mo. Now he’s retired if we would still be with Wellmark our cost would be $1300.00. We used our retirement funds to pay for medical expenses still have co-pays and deductables. We did attend the meeting last year, was a video conf. no one from Wellmark even there to answer questions. The one question I asked I was told the reason for the increase was we were helping those poor premie babies being born. Don’t know how we can afford it.MS

  60. Mireya Buesch Says:

    1. How can I afford an increase?
    2. Live on low income
    3. Don’t use insurance now it’s been 3yrs
    4. the state needs to do something
    Mireya Buesch
    MS

  61. Timothy Westemeyer Says:

    I had the opportunity to retire early (55yrs) and jumped at it. It wasn’t until now I am wondering if I have made a mistake. Since I retired BBS of Iowa has increased its premiums many times. I pay 35.85% more (last 3 yrs) since I started with them. I receive a monthly payment from my IRA. By law since I am not 59 ½ years of age I am restricted on what they can pay me. I have not had a pay increase in the last 3 years and will not get one for another 2 years.

    I am begging you, Susan E Voss, to reject this Proposed increase. It is bleeding me dry and makes it very hard to survive. I have cut a lot in my budget but this $50 increase will surly hurt me. Please consider myself and other people in this same predicament.

    I talked to a few insurance agents and I was told that the bigger insurance providers are raising their rates so they can ramp up for the 2014 government-mandated policies that will affect them. They need a stockpile of revenue to offset the cost. If this is true it saddens me to think they have to do this on the burden of people like me.

    Again, Susan E Voss, I ask you to think hard on this issue and reject BBS of Iowa’s increase.

    Sincerely,

    Timothy J Westemeyer
    MS

  62. Kathleen Hulse Says:

    Dear Iowa Insurance Commissioner,

    I want to strongly urge you to deny Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s request to increase my 2013 insurance premium by 12.2 %.

    I am 63 years old and have a small pension and receive social security. Less than 2 years ago my insurance premium started at $297.00. With the 2 rate increases that have occured I now pay $434.97 a month. With the 12.2 rate proposal my premium will increase $53.00 a month! My monthly pension does not change. The propsed $12.00 Social Security increase for 2013 is barely enough to offset the propsed insurance 12.2% increase.

    I plead with you to please deny this rate increase!!!!!!

    Thank you,
    Kathleen Hulse
    608 E. 8th St.
    Vinton, Ia 52349
    klmhulse@hotmail.com
    MS

  63. Jeff Elliott Says:

    I would like to comment/request. I believe it would be of great public interest and benefit to the Iowa Citizens for the Office of Consumer Advocate to educate the Iowa Citizens.

    I would like the agency whose name spells out Advocating for the Consumer, to do just that. I am asking the general question of why are Insurance Rates continuing to increase dramatically? We where told by the President of the United States, Barak Obama that our Insurance rates would fall, some dramatically and citizens would save if the nick named health bill, Obamacare was passed.

    I believe it would or should fall on an agency such as the Iowa Consumer Advocate, Insurance Division, to explain to the Iowa Citizens why the opposite is happening! If the citizens are educated as to what is happening they then can question and influence their elected representatives as to legislation that will actually help with the Health Care Cost issues!

    Thank You for your time, if a response is possible, that would be appreciated.MS

    Respectively,

    Jeff Elliott
    Burlington, IA 52601

  64. Gabe and Linda Says:

    We received the Notice of Proposed Base Premium Rate Increase and Public Hearing regarding Wellmark’s proposed base premium rate increase of 12.2%. As small business owners, we have to pay the entire cost of health insurance premiums for our family.

    We own a chiropractic office and receive most of our income from payment from Blue Cross Blue Shield. Unless Wellmark is planning on increasing their provider fee schedule by 12.2%, this will put an additional strain on our family’s finances. MS

  65. Anne-Louise Krambeck Says:

    To Whom It May Concern,
    I am writing to request that Wellmark’s request for a rate increase be denied. I started with Wellmark in September 2009, when I was 52 yrs old. In April 2010 my premium was increased. Then it was increased again in April 2011. (I had to change my deductible from $2750 to $5400 in April 2011 to make it affordable.) Now I receive a letter stating that another rate increase is being requested. PLEASE SAY NO!!
    As a short side note it might be interesting for you to know that I haven’t filed any claims since I’ve had this insurance. I don’t understand why I should have to pay for another increase when I haven’t used this insurance since the initial purchase in 2009.
    Thank you for your time and consideration of my request.

    Anne-Louise Krambeck
    Eldridge, IA

    This is the e-mail I sent last year (November 2012) when I was informed that Wellmark was asking the Commissioner of Insurance to approve a rate increase. Well my letter was printed in our local newspaper with certain information incorrectly stated but alas the rate increase was approved and I had to write another check to cover the new higher rate. Now I received a letter stating that Wellmark is requesting another rate increase!!!!! I still haven’t filed a claim with this insurance since I first started it in September 2009 but this is the fourth increase in 3 years . . . PLEASE . . . I BEG YOU . . . TURN DOWN Wellmark’s request for another increase!!!! (Maybe they could stop sending me their numerous flyers and magazines to save them some AND me some money.) Once again I thank you for your time and I hope you will say NO to Wellmark’s rate increase request
    MS

  66. Linda Schmidt Says:

    The proposed increase in Wellmark Base Premium rates is outrageous.
    Since I live on a very meager fixed income after losing my job and taking early retirement 3 years ago,
    I simply cannot afford rate hikes like Wellmark is requesting.
    Wellmark needs to find ways to cut its own administrative expenses and operating margin,
    and encourage health care providers to do the same, rather than just passing on higher and higher
    costs to those of us who are already scrimping just to get by.
    Please do NOT approve this rate increase.

    MS

  67. Stephanie Chatterjee Says:

    I own a business and completely understand the need to make a profit. However, if I gouge my customers it won’t take long for them to look elsewhere for a fair deal – defined as a quality product at a reasonable price. I hold Wellmark to no higher standard. I do not however see any declining profit on their end and a rate hike in excess of their standard (annual I might add) increase is outrageous.

  68. Christine Shiedal Says:

    VOTE NO
    Too much for people
    already had to raise deductable to $5000
    Have to have insurance
    why not just raise to the cost of living amount
    are the Wellmark CEO’s getting big raises

  69. Jeffery Wood Says:

    Should have more than just the Commissioner make the decision
    In the last 5 yrs it’s never in favor of the policy holder
    Who is paying the Iowa Commissioner
    What kind of gifts are involved if they approve Wellmarks increase

  70. Margaret Matter Says:

    Hello,

    My husband is 63 and I am 57. Since we are married, BCBS requires us to carry a family policy despite the fact that our children are no longer at home (age 26, 28,and 29) We both had cancer 10 years ago with no re-accurance. We are very healthy, normal weight, non-smokers who exercise almost daily. Despite our current good health our premiums are $1890/month. This is a scary number as we try to prepare for retirement.

    I would like to see a cap on the size of the premiums. I fear how a raise in the base premium rates would effect us. Please consider how an across the board raise would effect people on the higher end of premiums.

    Thank you,
    Margaret Matter
    cm

  71. Jane Allen Says:

    I received the notice about the increase in wellmarks premiums. I realize the cost of health care rising but I also feel as though Wellmark needs to take care of its own. It is a billion dollar company with Ceo’s and other employment pulling huge incomes out of that company. Before they increase the premiums they need to look at themselves it is not all health care cost.
    Thank you for your time.
    MS

  72. Cindy kutzner Says:

    Think this is a hefty increase for all the costs we have already, premiums, medical costs.
    We’re self employed we can’t raise our rates to our customer’s or we would be out of business. MS

  73. Nancy Sweeney Says:

    My husband and I are totally against the rate increase for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. We have had huge rate increases for the past two or three years and cannot afford another rate increase. MS

  74. Leslie McKnight Says:

    I am writing in protest to a proposed 12.2% base premium rate increase by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Since my family had to start purchasing private insurance a little over two years ago, I believe this would be the third increase if it should be approved. I find this simply ridiculous.

    The monthly premium for my family (my husband, three kids, and me, with no maternity or dental coverage) for a high deductible HSA plan, has gone up from around $330 a month to over $550 a month. Now another proposed increase will make this amount even higher.

    I am disgusted by the fact as a consumer I am stuck with only a handful of health insurance options for my family and these insurance companies continue to increase my premiums and there is basically nothing I can do about it.

    In a recent newsletter from Wellmark, they stated they were going to “improve” patient care by mandating doctors and health facilities to have authorization numbers for performing multiple procedures, dispensing durable medical equipment and a handful of other items effective December 15, 2012. The article went on to say if the doctors did not get this authorization number they would not get paid for the visit, procedure or dispensed DME items and the doctor would not be able to bill the patient. The doctor or facility would have to incur the charge or basically not get paid.

    I don’t know how this is in the best interest of my family’s care. If my child has a broken foot and and needs to be placed in a cam walker, why should the doctor have to get on the computer and go through a seven minute process to get an authorization number to dispense the boot? Why is a nurse at Wellmark determining my family’s care? Wellmark is initiating this new “improvement” to get out of paying claims. It is just another hoop the doctor has to jump through to do their job. If they don’t get the authorization number, the claim will be denied therefore lining Wellmark’s pockets because they can deny payment.

    What if Wellmark does not approve the cam walker for my child? Will the doctor send my child home without the proper equipment needed to ensure healing? There is no guarantee when the doctor gets into the online system to get an authorization number that it will be automatically approved. If there is a review process to determine medical necessity, an answer would not be immediate. It would take a few days. So I don’t blame the doctor for not issuing a boot he won’t get paid for without an authorization and sending my child home. I blame Wellmark for taking the patient care out of the doctor’s hands. This would mean we would have to come back to get a cam walker when it was approved by Wellmark and pay another copay.

    Why does Wellmark get to determine what a doctor can do medically? There are many situations that happen when a doctor is in office and seeing patients. A doctor should be able to do his or her job at the best of his knowledge without getting permission from an insurance company. This change is greatly going to affect patient care and what doctor’s are able to do. Patients are going to be inconvenienced and asked to come back for another visit because of this new system. They will not be able to get the pertinent care they need at the right time.

    I think Wellmark should use the money they will be not paying out of claims when this new “improvement” goes into effect on December 15, 2012, to pay for the higher costs they claim policyholders in my family’s rating class are costing them. It should more than cover the 12.2% for which they are asking.

    I know with the ObamaCare changes insurance companies are mandated to get rid of the previous/existing conditions clause. They have been forced to insure these people. However, they have just raised premiums across the board to cover their losses. This will only get worse when other phases of the ObamaCare plan goes into effect in 2014. It no way, shape or form has this affected Wellmark’s bottom line.

    Wellmark continues to lower reimbursements to doctors and health facilities while raising consumer premiums.

    Please put an end to this nonsense by not allowing another proposed rate increase.MS

  75. Karen Gombert Says:

    I am the mother of the person that got the letter about this hearing. My daughter is 21,healthy,full time grad student at Lincoln,NE,does not work at this time because grad school is very demanding. We pay her health insurance right now.$130 + right now per month and thats too munch.And now it’s going up 12.2% Nothing gets me more pissed off is she dosen’t even hardly use it but we have to pay for the damm other people that do.So if it goes up, we will be canceling it. She will go without, go on mine in June for $115 per month, go through her college, or I will find some other insurance co. It’s not fair to the members that don’t hardly use it(once a year for a once over). Some one is filling there pockets with these high primiums and something has to be done. My husband and I work very hard for what little money we make and just can’t pay it any more. I hate to see her go without insurance but thats how it is and I’m sure all will get worse the next 4 years with Obama in again. So theres my coments but I did this last year and it still went up. Please someone hear our plea, will there ever be a day where things go down? Thanks, Karen Gombert MS

  76. William Dean Sr Says:

    First of all I only use my insurance once a year …. I don’t think we should have to have the insurance increase since we just had the rates increased last year. At this rate I won’t be able to afford the insurance since I am retired and have a fixed income … Why do they have to keep increasing it?

    cm

  77. Angela Knipper Says:

    I Have a HUGE problem with the 13.30%. I had no insurance for 3 years because I was unable to afford it. I found an affordable plan with BCBS 15 months ago. 3 months after having the plan, my rates went from $119 a month to $128 a month. I get the bare minimum in coverage and because at this time I am healthy I haven’t hardly used the plan at all. In 15 months, I went to the Dr twice and got medicine twice. Once was for my yearly physical. I take no meds and I don’t smoke. Basically, your company makes money off of me. If you feel that this HUGE hike is necessary then maybe you should consider covering everyone who applies for a plan with no riders. If I had any pre-existing medical problems you wouldn’t cover them and why should you, there isn’t any money to be made if this is what you had to do. I work for a podiatrist and have been filing insurance claims for the past 4 years, my opinion is insurance companies don’t care about the people, they care about the money. You are in a business and businesses do need to make money, but I have never seen any business increase their rates at such a high rate. Increase may be necessary, I just ask that you re-evaluate the amount. If my insurance increases that much, I will leave BCBS and find another company.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my comments. MS
    Sincerely
    Angela Knipper

  78. Dixie Ann Peters Says:

    If this rate increase is approved, my insurance will go up 70 dollars per month and I simply can’t afford it. I will have to drop my plan. I just don’t have 71 extra dollars in my budget. cm

  79. Margaret Perkins Says:

    I am against the rate increase its just killing people right as it without the increase. It seems that every time I use a service they don’t cover it and I am just fed up with it.
    cm

  80. Deryl & Pat Kilpatrick Says:

    Good morning,

    As an individual policy holder with Blue Cross/Blue Shield we received the letter related to the proposed rate increases of 13.30% for 2013. It is hard to believe that the health care industry continues to widely out pace every other sector on the cost of providing service. When the average cost of living is rising at a rate significantly below these proposed rates how is the average individual suppose to continue to afford it? If this rate goes through I will have experienced an approximate increase of 25% in just two years. Most individuals are carrying high deductible plans which means we are carrying quite a bit of the up front costs. In talking to friends in the same position as myself we are all expressing a high level of frustration and wonder where is the representation for the average consumer.

    Given the current state of the economy the insurance industry rates should rise in correlation to the cost of living. This would reflect an annual increase of approximately 2-3%.

    We would respectfully request that the Iowa Insurance Commission either deny in whole or significantly reduce this proposed increase. It is time for the average consumer to be better protected against these unrealistic increases in health care costs.

    Thank you,

    Deryl & Pat Kilpatrick
    cm

  81. Rhonda Cunningham Says:

    Dear Commissioner of Insurance:

    I received the notice on Blue Cross and Blue Shield wanting to raise rates 13.30 percent.

    I understand the cost of health care does increase. But I don’t know of anyone getting a 13.30 percent raise in wages in a year.

    With economic times the way they are, 13.30 percent is a little on the high side. All this is going to do is force people to raise their deductibles and not seek health care.

    Please do not allow this much of an increase.

    Rhonda Cunningham
    cm

  82. Dennis Bliss Says:

    What the hell is Wellmark thinking? They just increased rates last April, and said at that time, “it will be a while before this happens again”. WRONG (LIAR). Now they are trying to squeeze more money out of the middle class just like everybody else is. Tell them to suck it up and make internal adjustments to live within their means, just like I (and many others) have to.

    This is total BS. Wellmark should streamline the administrative expenses (and cut the fat year end bonuses). They are really trying to make health care LESS affordable to the average citizen, instead of trying to help us. Wellmark should quit giving free health care to illegal aliens; then maybe they could reduce premiums!

    If you have any conscience, Commissioner, tell Wellmark to put this increase where the sun don’t shine! (unless of course you have already made up your mind and the Notice of Public Hearing was just a formality.) Sounds like you are giving them a loophole with the “Rating Characteristics” (what the hell is up with these anyway?)

    TELL WELLMARK NO!!!!

    MS

  83. Tracie Freund Says:

    This is getting out of hand! We are a young family of four paying over $900 a month for our own health insurance with Wellmark BCBS of Iowa. We pay more for our own health insurance through Farm Bureau than we pay for our home mortgage! This is absolutely ridiculous! I am saying NO to the ANNUAL premium increase. When we started with Wellmark BCBS we paid just over $500 a month for health insurance. Since then it has risen $100 each year.

    If rates increase anymore, our family along with many others may be forced to do with out health insurance! When is enough, enough!

    Please, do not let the rate increase take effect! MS

  84. Chris and Yvette Crotty Says:

    We would like to give our input on this proposed 12.2% increase with Wellmark blue cross and Blue Shield in there proposal letter. We are self employed business and pay for our own health insurance for our family and are sole propeiter of our business. The out of pocket costs for our premiums are very high in present time, and with the economy being so bad and costs of medical that keep going up, we vote NO on raising it anymore. We are against this increase and do not wish to shop around again for the best deal in our healthcare insurance.WE STRONGLY VOTE NO TO INCREASES.

    Thank you,
    Chris and Yvette Crotty
    cm

  85. Cathleen Wignall Says:

    I recently received a notice in the mail of a proposed base premium increase by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa.

    I would like to formally complain and ask that this increase not be approved.

    I am semi-retired with no other health insurance, and in order to afford health insurance I have an individual high deductible plan. Since having this insurance plan through Wellmark, my rates have increased significantly each year. My question is why and how is it warranted? I literally only go to the doctor once a year for my annual checkup- I am in perfect health, do not smoke and am physically fit.

    In this unstable economy and living on a very fixed income, the proposed rate hikes seem unfair, excessive and unnecessary to me.

    It’s time to get the cost of health insurance under control! Please let the officials making these decisions know that raising the rates will be a real hardship on me and many others who are working hard day by day to make ends meet and to remain healthy, vibrant members of society.

    Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be heard, MS

  86. Larry Hodgden Says:

    My wife and I were early health care consumers who chose to open a Health Saving Account by purchasing a high deductible health insurance plan. It just made sense because we were not consumers who ran to the doctor for every sniffle and in the intervening years we have never reached our deductible or even come close most years. It does not make sense to me that the consumers who have been in HSA’s would be using enough health services above their deductible to deserve the type of increase requested by Wellmark.

    I would hope you would question the costs of each type of policy and coverage provided by Wellmark and be sure any increases in premium are being passed on to those who consume the most health care services which are actually paid for by Wellmark. To do otherwise is to penalize those who are trying our best to hold down health care costs overall.

    I would like to see a report on Wellmark’s actual premiums received and benefits paid out for each type of coverage and so should you. I look forward to your response to my concern. Thank You

    MS

  87. Chris & Janeane Van Ginkel Says:

    Hi, I am writing on behalf of my husband & myself. We would like to comment on the proposed increase in base premium rates for our BCBS Health Insurance. We would like to say that we disagree that the rate should go up 12%. The middle class can’t keep seeing everything go up when our wages don’t go up! If we could even get a 5% raise that would be amazing, but yet the healthcare industry just keeps going up & up! Please reconsider & DON’T INCREASE the rates!

    MS

  88. Chris Grote Says:

    Regarding the letter that was mailed to me regarding Health Insurance, I can’t believe that you guys are going to take another health insurance increase. This is getting out of hand. Pretty soon no one is going to be able to afford the health insurance because it is too high!! Blue Cross took a big increase last year and now wanting to take another price increase. Pretty soon everyone will be living off the govt because no one can afford to keep health insurance or they will have such a high deductible and people cannot afford that either.

    Respectfully,

    Chris Grote
    cm

  89. Sara Cornelius Says:

    As a Wellmark customer for over 5 years, I have gone through too many premium increases already. If these increases continue, we will no longer be a customer of Wellmark because we cannot afford to do so. We already had to go with a lower base plan because the other one got to pricey. Pretty soon, people like me with growing families will no longer be able to afford insurance at all…is that what the purpose of this is????? I thought it was important to have medical insurance but not to the point of going broke to have it. There was just a 20% increase last year…why another one already????? This is getting ridiculous…..MS

    Sara Cornelius

  90. Kevin Hirst Says:

    12.2% too much will price me out of insurance
    more than doubled in 3-4 yrs
    don’t use it- already raised my deductible to $5,000
    MS

  91. Meredith Hanson Says:

    I am very upset that Welmark is requesting a 13.3 % rate increase. Right now for me and my wife is $ 16,147.20 a year already. If they approve the rate increase it will jump to $18,294.78 a year… they are just pushing us out of market and I just cant move at all. I just don’t know when its going to quit. What are they are trying to do drain every last drop of money from people. I just don’t know. Its not right. In my opinion if they had to buy there own insurance I doubt that they would want to increased the rate. Then they would know what is going and how absurd this is. They would see it differently if they were in the consumer shoes. I am getting closed to that age bracket and with all of these constant rate increases it frightens me and sickens me. I wont be able to afford health isnurance.

    cm

  92. Brenda Bogle Says:

    Please take into consideration these economic times when you review this request. I can’t remember a time when things have been so dire for the middle class (and I’m now 61 years old). I realize that increases are to be expected, however, I wonder why one of this magnitude is necessary. Would it be possible to limit the increase this time, but implement the remaining at another time? Thank you. MS

    “IN GOD WE TRUST”

  93. Dan Oien Says:

    I am writing to express my concern to the proposed 13.3% rate increase of my health care insurance plan. We do not use our health insurance very much and we have raised our deductibles to make our health insurance affordable. I can appreciate health care costs go up annually, but not at the rate that is being requested. Now due to our wonderful “affordable health care act” those of us that pay our insurance and do not abuse it are now being asked to supplement the rest of the country. This is completely unfair and immoral. Please look into this issue and make an educated decision.

    Thank you for your time regarding this manner,MS

    Dan Oien

  94. Michael Fox Says:

    Why does Wellmark believe they need to raise base rates? What factors contribute to their proposal? Where can the public go to see their annual budget and projected budgets? Is Wellmark to blame or Congress?
    Thanks
    Michael Fox

  95. Gary Says:

    How do you justify a rate increase when you are continuously given out bonus’s?…. Don’t tag me so that someone can get a bonus.. when your flat lining then you can ask for a rate increase. Someone needs to ask how much the spent in annual bonus. It’s a bad thing for everybody and I would like to see how much they did spend in bonus last year.
    cm

  96. June Koeilker Says:

    Well they have increased premium every year, yet wages have not increase. I want to keep my family insurance but will be unable to afford health insurance if this rate increase is approved. It would not hurt for the insurance company to stay at the status quo for a couple years since they just had a rate increase last year. And now they are asking for another rate increase.. I don’t think that Welmark needs to have such a large profit to pay for their employees annual bonuses. If Wellmark were looking out for its consumers they would break even a couple years for the little guy. Last year it went up 50 dollars now they want another 40 a month. It just make me sick.
    cm

  97. Susan Whit Says:

    I want to protest the current request to raise Welmark health insurance rates. My husband and I are retired teachers and have been with Welmark for past 7 years. Last year they just had a 9% rate increase and now they are asking for 13%. We are currently paying $10,000 a year for health care and we are healthy people. I have even had issues with some doctors charging us double and Welmark didn’t seem to care or attempt to look in the case. I am not happy with them at all .. I know they are making an excessive amount of money however
    If they were a little more vigilant and monitored budgeting and what they are paying for, perhaps they would be able to keep rates the same and protect the little guy.

    cm

  98. Jill Schlichte Says:

    I was greatly trouble when I received yet another notice in the mail that our health insurance was probably going to increase. I cannot comprehend why health insurance has increased so greatly in the last few years. We are a family of four, fortunately healthy, and have to pay an arm and a leg to have health insurance. Neither one of us has a job that offers health insurance so we are forced to pay our monthly premiums completely out of pocket! It is extremely unreasonable to me that a healthy family of four has to pay $856 a MONTH for a $3,000 deductible. That means we still have to pay a very high amount per person if God forbid anything happens to one of us!
    I think that the health insurance companies need to figure out another way to cut costs rather than putting the cost on us!. I am not sure where all of these costs are coming from or what they could do to solve this problem, but I can say my husband and I have not seen any kind of increase like this in pay at our jobs, making this health insurance almost COMPLETELY UNAFFORDABLE!!!
    Please take middle class families like ours, who do not get any kind of health insurance coverage from our jobs into consideration when looking at this proposal. MS

  99. Linda Frideres Says:

    Last year my husband and I were notified by Wellmark BlueCross/Blue Shield that they wish to increase my premiums by 7.03%. We both received another letter recently that they wish to increase rates by 13.3%!! They have increased our rates every year. I have a $1,000 deductible, no dental, no vision, a $20 co-pay on office visits, and a 60/40 split on all my medications. Dean’s also has $1,000 deductible, his medications are not covered, and also has no dental or vision.
    In 11 years, our premiums have increased each year. The following is the total premium paid per year.

    2003 $6,588 Add $2,000 yearly for deductibles
    2004 $7,510
    2005 $7,800
    2006 $8,488
    2007 $8,526
    2008 $8,603
    2009 $9,633
    2010 $11,049
    2011 $12,616
    2012 $13,617
    2013 $15,428 (With 13.3% increase) With deductible: $17,428

    We each have $1,000 deductible, which is easily met every year.
    In the last ten years, we have paid the following out-of-pocket expenses for both of us.

    2001 $12,832
    2002 $8,676
    2003 $11,418
    2004 $9,625
    2005 $7,563
    2006 $9,070
    2007 $12,031
    2008 $6,213
    2009 $12,676
    2010 $11,441
    2011 $11,458

    Based on the average of the last 11 years, we spend over $10,000 each year for medical expenses not covered by insurance, which is now costing $13,617 per year. So every year, medical costs and insurance are going to total about $24,000, if we have no hospitalizations/injuries/diseases of a serious nature, with no increase in premiums. In 2013 we will pay $15,428 (With 13.3% increase) plus deductible= $17,428. Add on $11,000 out of pocket expenses, and the total is $28,428, again if we have no hospitalizations/injuries etc.

    We are self-employed, and will turn 60 this year. However, medical expenses are limiting what we can spend, save for retirement, buy equipment, etc. Due to some health issues, we would not be able to switch companies. I can’t imagine what would happen financially if something really serious came up.

    I believe the State of Iowa Insurance Commission is the only resource we have to curb at least the cost of insurance. We have talked with many friends/acquaintances who cannot change jobs, or have to continue working even while they have serious health issues, simply because they cannot afford medical insurance. I am asking you to please regulate and stop Wellmark’s increases in their premiums, not only now, but in the future as well.

    Thank you for your consideration. Due to public viewing, I am only using my first name.

    Linda

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  100. Martha Says:

    Hello,
    I am writing in response to to Wellmark BC/BS’s proposed base premium increase. I prefer that permission for such a large increase(13.30%) was not allowed.
    I do not have insurance assistance through work and need to carry cost and the entire responsibility for managing my policy on my own. I do my best to do my part to keep mine and Wellmark’s cost down. I meet with my agent and make possible and needed adjustments. I have gone with a higher deductible and copay. She has taught me how to track/match up my service with my claim sheets and check for accuracy. I follow up when I find an error, and there have been several over the years. Here is an example; in the last year I found on a dr’s visit my insurance policy and I were mistakenly charged for an injection that was actually given to another pt that was at the clinic around the same time. Since I brought it to their attention it was looked into and corrected. Even prior to the ads requesting use of generic meds. I would inquire and used them if my doctor hadn’t already prescribed them, which he is very much in the habit of doing. I go to the doctor only when necessary and then heed his advice. I go in for my preventative and advised checks/screens. I feel I am putting a great deal of effort into using my insurance responsibly and doing what I can to keep my cost down. My monthly insurance premium creeps up every year and is $565.60 at this time. That is within a few cents of 25% of my total take home pay for the month. A 13.30% increase would bring my premium to $645.23, 29% of my monthly take home. The premium is a hard bill to met monthly please, do not allow it to increase so drastically. I have friends and family that are effected too. Some constantly question if they can afford insurance. My sister’s take home is less than mine and her premium is even higher and she has the threat of the 13.30% increase also. Please do what you can to help us. Thank you, Martha
    MS

  101. Jeanne hen Says:

    I think as older people that have been on the plans for 20 years and all we are getting are increases and increase and increases on rates. They are going to have to find a common rate so its equal.
    cm

  102. Harry Rupe Says:

    Good morning, I received my letter from Wellmark informing me of their proposal for a 12.2% base premium rate increase. The history of Wellmark constantly looking to increase rates is no secret. The last increase they proposed broke down to about 9% of the money basically going to the bottom line.
    In today’s financial reality, people are hurting. Our Government does not include fuel and food prices when calculating inflation. To have the two items we must all have not included is just plain crazy considering where the prices of those items have grown to. Gas prices under this President has increased from about $1.84 a gallon to currently about $3.20. Food prices have gone way up well our wages and benefits have gone down. They can place the blame wherever they want, but as consumers, we all still have to pay the price.
    As for the increased cost of healthcare, 70% of the American people DID NOT WANT Obamacare, but had it shoved down our throats by corrupt politicians who would not listen to their people. So therefore, why should we be punished by Wellmark for the added cost they must pay under the new law? They tell me that my wife and I are in the lowest risk pool of insured, but even at that, it appears that all of the pools will be having some sort of rate increase even after the base is raised. WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH!
    Let’s face it, any insurance company, or public utility, should not be able to raise rates in excess of the cost of living percent. I don’t know about you, but my cost of living sure hasn’t gone up 12.2%. I am asking, begging, pleading, imploring you to deny the rate increase at this time. There is no one in the world that would ever convince me that Wellmark isn’t making a decent profit, and that their managers and executives aren’t making lots of money, and probably get their healthcare for free.
    I hope that the majority of people responding agree with me that this is not a good time to raise rates. I also hope that this isn’t a ploy to get some of us to drop our coverage so as to be forced into a Government run health system.MS
    Thank you for your time,
    Harry Rupe

  103. Vicki Lynch Says:

    We have had a rate increase every single year and I will not be able to afford insurance if the request is approved. I am already on a fixed income. Someone needs to wake up and watch out for the senior citizens.
    cm

  104. Denise Wilson Says:

    The last 4yrs it’s been increased, premiums TOO high. I won’t be 65 yrs old for another year.
    Getting out of hand, raised my deductible in order to afford it now. not just my problem many friends are having the same issue with this increase. MS
    Denise Wilson

  105. Susan Busch Says:

    My husband and I are in our 60 and right now we are at ends meet. They have already raised three times since last four years. We are trying to make it with our fixed income but Welmark is making it impossible. Why?
    cm

  106. cherie kempf/stephen Says:

    cherie kempf says:
    Why should the insurance Co. beable to keep raising the price every year .Me and my husband have paid an increase every year. And he has already 3500.00deductable an rarley goes to the doctor .So we are still trying tp pay a hostipal for test. These will be still going on into the next year. And mine is disability and i have only one income . You know it
    wouldnt be so bad if your deductable was only like 500.00.But you know we won’t see that so why don’t they put like every so many years there allowed to increase.example like 5yrs-10.

  107. Brian Says:

    i recently received a letter stating the amount that you want to increase your premiuns again this year here is my thoughts how can you request a twelve percent pay increase every year why don’t you ask the people of the state of iowa what there average pay increase was my last pay increase was one per hour and that was over four years ago the policy that i have has never been used once in the four years that i have had it and has increased over twenty dollars per month in that time frame i am sick and tired of paying more and more for this policy and any other insurance is a simple rip off how about making the doctors and nurses take a pay cut for once som maybe they have to drive there cars four five years instead of trading every year or two step up to the plate for the peolpe of iowa and stop this crap very tired of the state and federal goverment its dam joke your to help the poeple not see how much you can take and stuff in your own pockets MS

  108. Gary Says:

    Please consider important: Thank you the opportunity to express our concerns over the Wellmark cost increases – we have found Wellmark to be a good medical provider however as we know medical insurance costs to retirees and others most difficult. I see and hear from other retired friends and family that an increase in costs is understood but not in such large increases all at once. Double digit percentage increases are crippling to us and most average income people on private medical programs.

    Possible options – implement stair step increases that do not exceed inflation rates for example; and review annually as to company medical costs over all. That is to say if a 12.2% increase is the goal achieve that goal over a period of years such as a planned four to six year step increase. After this period if cost adjustments are needed then another premium plan is reviewed; in essence I see and hear that people expect costs to increase but to price the normal or average wage earner beyond their capabilities is not a smart business model. I see that people will drop out and seek other insurance programs that are available for less, even if the deductible or quality is not what Wellmark offers.

    Another option is to establish a reward point system of sorts; create percentage points for those who exercise and work to have good health as proven by their doctor – say in a letter of proof, weight loss and the like. Paying all premiums on time and method of payment such as direct deposit can also achieve rewards points. In essence give people goals to work at for better health that will equate in to lower annual premium costs. It appears that under the current program we just pay as adjusted by your deductible plan; no workable incentives are available in this process.

    In closing – thank you again and we hope you do not implement a large percentage increase as planned!!!! Medical costs will soon be too expensive for us to afford as with many Americans and good citizens of Iowa.
    MS

  109. Kathleen Ferguson Says:

    I don’t know what to say,but I am against the rate increase. In 3 years my rate has almost doubled. I have no chance to get insurance at work . I understand at work that the insurance is only going up about 6% and my would be going up over 12%. I don’t think that is fair. Plus I feel the insurance company does all it can to find ways not to pay claims. They don’t really want to listen to our concerns or reasons . Look at the paychecks of their workers and their executives, and how much they pay for their insurance. Try to keep things fair. Thank you for your time. Sincerely Kathleen

    MS

  110. Joe Basala Says:

    I received a letter indicating Wellmark is proposing a rate increase. For me, it was state that a 12.2% increase was being planned.

    I thought with the “Obama Care” laws in effect medical costs were to go down. This is what the President, Vice President, and the media have been saying over the past year. Were these statements inaccurate?

    12.% increase is a little high. The economy is growing no where near that rate.

    Please consider this as issue is debated.MS

  111. Joann Smith Says:

    With the high Insurance profits shouldn’t have to raise premiums this is rediculous.
    People won’t have insurance too high to afford
    should have lower rates for people who don’t use it
    I’m single self employeed had to already raise my deductable
    no excuse for this rate increase. MS

  112. anonymous Says:

    Comment on rate Wellmark rate increase: “Go ahead and raise it – God forbid it should ever go down”. MS

  113. Molly Holst Says:

    A strong request to have you do everything in your power to keep the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield rates from an increase.
    Recurring increased premiums over so long without corresponding wage increases to come near to cover them have strained all possible ways to accommodate and have included severe cutbacks to nutritious food buying & adequate heat, foregoing medical preventative procedures and other doctor visits. Along with the corresponding stress it’s all ironically counterproductive to the health benefits being struggled to obtain.
    The entire healthcare provider and insurance industries should be able to do so much more than the individual. Please start with eliminating the massive and expensive mass mailings Wellmark produces. No individual directs attention to or makes substantial change from articles touting Wellmark’s qualities and to be sure to eat more nutritious food (see above).
    MS

  114. Rick Wojtak Says:

    A 13.30% increase is ridiculous — nothing is going up at that certainly not my pension nor social security !
    MS

  115. Sandra Mason Says:

    I’m searching for one good reason to attend the public hearing concerning Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s proposed premium rate increase. If it would make a difference, it would be worth attending. However, past records prove that the rate will increase in spite of protests from Wellmark’s customers. These requests to reject premium increases apparently fall on deaf ears at the Iowa Insurance Commission as well.

    Clearly, I wish to oppose the rate increase. Mark that down. . . along with the protests from many other customers who feel the same way. MS

    Sandra Mason

  116. Anonymous Says:

    I just want to protest the base rate increase. we are already paying way to much already. We can’t afford another rate increase. We will have to drop Blue Cross.

    I want to protest the base rate increase becuase the notice says they can increase the individual amount also. We just can’t afford it. It has to stop somewhere.

    -ar

  117. Debra Shoemaker Says:

    NOT IN FAVOR OF THE INCREASE. Please deny the 13.3% increase. If must be an increas then no more than 6%. There is no one receiving 13.3% increases in their monthly income. MS

  118. Linda Schmidt Says:

    If you people raise my insurance premiums one more time. I’m going to drop this insurance.. Ridiculous Cool it. MS

  119. James Campbell Says:

    I started getting Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa Insurance out of my own pocket starting 9-19-11 for $233.15 mo. Then starting April 2012, raised my preium up to $255.15 mo. Just 6mo after I started my insurance. Now want another rate increase starting April 2013. When is this going to stop or is it so wellmark can keep uping there profit base to line there own pockets? If they keep raising the premium every 6mo I won’t beable to afford wellmark insurance. Maybe I’ll have to use insurance more often instead of putting my mdical needs on hold, becasue of my out of pocket expense. and wellmark always wanting an increase, I can’t even now afford to use my insurance now, and they still want more money. So much for the Obama plan. People like me on a fixed income won’t be able to afford to get health insurance. Thats why I don’t have my own doctor to yet help or blood pressure pills, haven’t take pills since 2010, can’t afford to go to doctor ever with my ins. I have now. MS

  120. Robert and Mary Zishka Says:

    As a recently retired couple,we researched various ins companies considering costs and benefits of each before deciding to choose wellmark. We expected that there would be increases in upcomoing years based on national increased medical costs, however we didn’t expect a 12.2% increase all at one time. When considering the rate of inflation at approximately 2% and wage increases less than 3% and AARP’s estimate of less than 7% in medical costs for 2013, this 12.2% does not seem reasonable. It is our understanding that wellmark is one of the largest health care plans in the state of IA. which is one of the benefits we considered. It stands to reason, then, that this increase is affecting the majority of us who pay for our insurance through retirement funds. This increase will put a lot of us in vulnerable positions when it comes to deciding what types of health care we can afford. It shouldn’t have to be like this, but with the help of the consumer advocate, and serious consideration to these conserns by the commissioner of Insurance and a well considered review by teh commissioner’s independent consultant, perhaps it will not be. While an increase is neither unexpected nor considered unnecessary, a 12.2% seems unrealistic and unfair to those of us who planned our retirement around somewhat reasonable costs that increase within reasonable rates. Robert Zishka. MS

  121. Jeannie Overton Says:

    I’m 58, active, don’t smoke, don’t drink, and don’t do dope. I have my blood tested 2 times a yr. Have a yearly mamogram & colonoscopy every 3 yrs. This can’t keep up! We live on a fixed income. at this rate of inflation I will be paying $700.00mo by the time on medicare. I pay $391.95 now. My agent tells me my premuims go according what “pool” I am in. Well I am drowning and the crazy thing is I am a great swimmer! We need help. MS

  122. Mary Ottoson Says:

    This is completely bogus that healthcare is continuing to rise. At rates WAY ABOVE inflation. Everything goes up, except salaries. Food costs, health costs, gas, utilities, etc. And we had a rate hike last year on health insurance, with BCBS. Now it’s happening again, at a 12.2% rate increase!!!!!! Did I get a 12.2 increase in my salary? NO. I haven’t even met my deductible yet, because I’m healthy. This is completely ridiculous. I’ve had other BCBS before (IL) and I don’t remember having to pay nearly 20% increase in two years.

    BULLSHIT.

    If BCBS would go electronic, cut customer service hours (how about weekends only, when most people can get ahold of your agents, instead of only 8-5pm, when most people are in work, trying to make money to pay your ridiculous rate increases). Get with it. I have an HSA and its supposed to be affordable, and it’s not. And it keeps increasing. I’m pretty sure I saw a rate increase of about 10% last year…if not more. 20% in two years? Can you imagine if banks did that, and raised mortgage rates 20%? Homeowners across the country, including YOUR EMPLOYEES, would revolt. This is not acceptable. Why don’t you become a leader of health insurance affordability, instead of the monster.MS

  123. Mary Kline Says:

    This is ridiculous rate increase. I’ve had your insurance 5yrs pay over $770.00 for 3mo with a $5500. deductible. I don’t use it either. I know they are making money can build a new building $$$ millions. You’re making it so people can’t afford insurance. I’m self employed and my husbands on medicare… NO RATE increase. MS
    Mary Kline

  124. Valerie Horst Says:

    I don’t understand where Wellmark feels they need to raise 13%.
    We are a small business, my husband and myself. We only carry Wellmark insurance for the
    HSA account. Over the last 5 years we haven’t used the insurance, but because we are
    getting older our rates have always gone up.
    My husband is a chiropractor and Medicare has decreased it payments to us over the
    last two years and I can see that continuing. Our practice is over half senior citizens
    so it is getting very difficult to continue our practice that has been established for
    over 20 years. Wellmark has given us a minimal increase over the last few years
    but not even the 4% cost of living factor increase.
    If this increase goes through we will have to weigh our option of NOT having insurance and pay the
    fee rather than keep paying these increases.MS
    Valerie Horst

  125. Tony Ellis Says:

    Dear Commissioner,

    I would like to strongly object to the proposed rate increases for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa to be effective on April 1st 2013. My wife and I have only with Blue Cross for one year and there has already been one rate increase. Dealing with the company’s billing and customer service has also been time consuming and frustrating and the coverage so far has not been really effective for our needs. I think it would be far more effective if Blue Cross concentrated on streamlining their administration and giving their customers better value for their money. If anything, in the current economic climate, we should be seeking ways to reduce the costs of insurance and healthcare rather than increasing them.
    MS

  126. Sandy McCabe Says:

    I am begging you to not approve the increase in my premium with Wellmark Blue Cross and blue Shield. They have increase my families policy for the last 10 to 15 years every year. At one time we paid $1200 a month because my wife was a diabetic and our daughter had a liver transplant. We had to split our family into 2 policies to get the premium price down. I have always worked 2 to 3 jobs to pay for our insurance. A few years ago my wife went on Disability. I now have type 2 diabetic and now I am going through this cycle of being stuck in a Insurance company that keeps raising the premium to get me to drop them but I can not get any other insurance.

    My daughter and her husband have the same Insurance company they pay $550 a month she is the one who had the liver transplant 24 years ago and hasn’t had a problem with her liver in 20 years she is very healthy. But Wellmark keeps going up every year for them also. They have now went to a deductible of $4500 to lower their monthly price. They both work very hard, she is a nurse in the ER working 12 hour shifts to pay for their insurance. They will not be able to have another child because of what it cost in Insurance. Wellsmark is a good insurance but they are working on every obtains to get other insurance, but we are very concern that if she would ever have medically issues and another insurance would not pay for her care. Their only choice would be to get a divorce and quit her job and go on welfare which many others have been using for years.

    We have taught our children well both have college education they are paying for and working 40 to 50 hours a week, but can hardly make it because their Insurance keeps going up. We have to stop this somewhere, it is so easily to see what is wrong with the health care system. And number one is to stop these ccompany from raising their rates on patients with preexisting illnesss

    In 28 years this is the first time we have had any voice in Wellmark increasing their premiums we just get a raise every year.

    We are just trying to be good Americans and work hard to pay our bills and never be late, but we have to continue to struggle with increases every year with our Insurance. Our daughter and her husband work very very hard and their Wellmark keeps going up every year. Our daughter who works in the ER see all the people on Welfare that pay nothing they all have cell phones, smoke, drink and never work. It really doesn’t seem fair, we need to start sticking up for those that are really trying and not costing the government more money.

    Please, Please don’t allow Wellmark Blue Cross to increase our premium again like every year that they have.MS

  127. Beverly Sherbondy Says:

    We received notice of Wellmark’s proposed base premium increase of 12.25% for the next year, beginning April, 2013. I have read the documentation provided with this notice.

    I am protesting the amount of this increase. This is a large amount for a single year, especially when considered in light of the recent years’ increases. Last year we received our notice of premium increase of 33% to a policy which we had had for many years. We were told when we protested that the “pool” we were in determined our rate. Our option was to change to a different “pool” and lose our grandfathered status. We felt we were forced to do this although our premium was lowered from more than $1200/mo to $1066. With the proposed increase we will again be paying nearly $1200/mo. We have had to accept reduced coverage but our rates continue to show significant increases year after year.

    A modest increase of 3-4% would be understandable, given increases in postage, etc. However, an increase of over 12% seems excessive. I hope that the Commissioner will consider denial of Wellmark’s request. MS

  128. Kristi Beattie Says:

    Dear Sir, Please be advised of situations like mine. I am divorced and have been on medical leave since Jan 2010 due to a spinal injury. Yet another surgery will be Nov 26th at Mayo. These have been necessary to not loss function from the waist down. My Wellmark insurance is almost a thousand dollars per month for just me. Yesterday I recieved a letter stating they have requested an increase that will be taking affect increasing my premium over $155 plus administratve fees etc of $16 or more. They will not let me change the deductable, co pay or group. no one else will take me. Please stop these practices. My health insurance cost alone has robbed everything I had in savings, not to mention the 20% I pay after my deductible and non covered services. PLEASE STOP THIS RATE INCREASE!!!!! MS

    Thank you, Kristi Beattie

  129. Gerald Schneiter Says:

    Last year we got a letter of a rate increase for a 9% or around 10 dallars on our bill each month. Mine went up about 90 dallars a month. Now we get a letter saying they want 12.2% increase or 43-44 dallar increase mine will go up 96- 100 dallars a month. That will bring my payment up to 900 dallars a month or 10,800 a year and out off that yearly payment I have to pay taxes on 10,000 dallars of that. How are people going to keep paying insuance payments plus everything else that has gone up. I’ve only had one company tell me one time on medical claims if you get a bill from the hospital for more money you don’t pay it. I feel that the more you give in for rate increases the more they are goining to raise hospital rates. The hospitals seem to find enough money to keep building on when ever they want to. I was told alot of that money is donated that is just hear say maybe. It probably won’t do any good writing this anyway. I guess we are just suppose to work untill we are in the grave. I know i’m putting in more hours now to make things work out and my work week is 55 hrs per week plus and I make 12.10 per hour. People are getting feed up with goverment for they feel like we don’t have any say anyway. Is it the same way with this? Thank you for reading my letter I know your job isn’t easy. Please let me know if you received this and any comment you may have. MS

  130. Kirsten Ludwig Says:

    My husband is a farmer, and I am mental health counselor who is in private practice, which means that my husband and I pay for oiur premiums completely out of our pockets. We don’t have employers that may help pay for part of the premiums because we are self-employed. We have a 3 year old daughter, and a two year old son, who are both healthy, and rarely need to be seen by a doctor other than for their wellness checks, and the occassional ear infection. My husband and myself are healthy as well. We took out a family plan through BC/BS four and half years ago, and since that time our premiums have gone up by 50% and I have raised our deductible three times in order to make the premiums affordable. Now we have received what has become our annual notice that BC/BS is proposing to raise the premiums again, and we know that proposal means that it is going to happen due to past history. My husband and I work very hard in our careers, and have taken pride in the fact that we have chosen to live within our means, and take care of our financial responsibilities without turning to the state for financial assistance or health insurance coverage for our children or ourselves. Everytime we get notice of another increase in our health insurance we say to ourselves that it seems we are getting punished for doing the right thing by taking care of our expenses. We could opt to have one of us stay at home with our children, and lose half our income so that we may meet the criteria for state assistance for health insurance. This seems backwards to me though., and not the message I want to send to my children. I understand that some individuals really do need the assistance due to unforseen circumstances, and I’m glad that it is there for them. I do find it frustrating though that I will need to continue to raise my deductible or decrease benefits in order to afford health insurance for my family, and others will have insurance that will cover more services than I have with my plan, but I pay $1000.00 a month and they pay very little to nothing. Why do we continue to punish the middle class for being willing to work hard, and especially those who are self-employed who are striving to bring services to people who may not otherwise be able to receive them. I hope the Commissioner of Insurance will really consider how another annual increase in premiums can truly have a negative impact on many families who hare trying to live responsibly in their lives. Thank you for your time and consideration.
    MS

  131. Jessica Ashby Says:

    Healthcare costs are already unaffordable. we try our hardest and it doesn’t do any good. we can no longer have insurance if they increase the rates. NO RATE increase. MS

  132. Martha Barnard and Chad Branham Says:

    Please do not allow Wellmark to raise their base rate again. It would mean that we would have to end our coverage. I am self employed and have paid for my own health care for 18 years. In Colorado with Kaiser, I had preventative health care at a reasonable cost. Moving to Iowa ended that. For 5 years Wellmark’s coverage has continued to worsen, with no preventative health care, $9,500 deductible for my husband and for me and now they want to raise their rates? Outrageous, please help.
    Thanks for your consideration MS

  133. Richard Brammer Says:

    NO to Rate increase.. Went with Farm Bureau 5yrs ago has been going up ever since. MS

  134. Jo Ann Winter Says:

    I wonder if the commission has the authority to actually deny a rate increase? It seems that these hearings are just a formality and the insurance companies get whatever monies they are asking for regardless of any public opinion or review by the commission. I also wonder what kind of number crunching goes on over at the insurance company to justify these outrageous increases?

    Our insurance rate for a young healthy family of 5 increased over a three year period from 2008 – 2011 by 47%, which forced us into a different plan for 2012 with very high deductibles and greater out of pocket expenses. More money for less coverage and we avoid doctor visits simply because we don’t have that much disposable income left over at the end of the month. Unfortunately our household income has not increased at this same rate and I don’t see how our family will continue to have health coverage, we simply will not be able to afford it.

    I ask that the commission deny this requested increase.

  135. Bobbi Black Says:

    I respectfully ask the insurance commission to reconsider this rate increase. This is totally unfair and targeting individuals who have been responsible for maintaining adequate coverage. Our Federal government tells us health care will be “affordable” to everyone. Why are individuals who pay for insurance being singled out? At this rate, health insurance will eventually become “unaffordable” for everyone. Please reconsider premium increase. MS

  136. Brian Jones Says:

    Dear Wellmark Insurance,

    The health insurance services you provide are invaluable. It’s virtually unfeasible and foolish not to have health insurance. My provider choices are limited, and I want competent and comprehensive coverage.

    Wellmark’s premium increases year after year are unacceptable. No other industry could have such substantial cost increases and expect costumers to stay. Increases are never offset with a premium reduction. Any business that pushes all increased costs onto the consumer would go out of business.

    Health cost increases are hurting families, the economy, and threaten this countries way of life. May I suggest offering affordable plans that people actually want. Your plans are ridged, overpriced, and offer coverages I do not want or need. Customers are willing to help control costs by reducing areas of coverage if you would simply redesign plans that actually offer what we need. I do not need you to pay for every doctors visit for a sniffle or for my aspirin.

    Outrageous premium increases are no longer acceptable, and you must now find other ways to limit your costs and control costs. My premiums are paid with this expectation, and you have failed miserably year after year. I am dissatisfied with the sub-par management of my health insurance and it’s cost. American’s have had to tighten their belts in this fiscal down-turn. It’s your responsiblitly to now do the same. MS

  137. Matt Clausen Says:

    My opinion is to rebuke the proposal to increase the premiums. Wellmark needs to find better and other ways to make their business work. Health care needs to find ways to make their industry work better for our society. The medical industry has been a thorn in the side of economic balance for years.

    I thought Obama Care was to make affordable health care? Since it’s inception, health care has gone up. At a much faster rate than inflation.

    We need to say no to our healthcare rates increasing! The healthcare industry knows we cannot go with out coverage, and they exploit that. MS

  138. Colin Tutill Says:

    I will be unable to attend any of the public hearings, so am writing to you to make my voice heard.

    I think this proposed increase is outrageous and totally unacceptable! I have not had a wage increase for almost 4 years – how am I supposed to be able to afford such swingeing increases? Wellmark need to cut operating costs (maybe reduce inflated salaries of senior personnel and directors) rather than soaking the policyholders.MS

  139. Robert Romza Says:

    I am writing in response to a letter I received concerning Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa’s request for a 13.3% increase in it base premium. When I bought my insurance, I expected to have to pay about 10% more each year; which I think is reasonable given the increase in health care costs, etc. However, I do have a problem with increases greater than 10%. So, I am asking that the rate increase be much smaller than the 13.3% that is being requested and with the provision that people who have no change in Individual Rating Factors not be charged more than a 10% overall increase.MS

  140. Pam Poggensee Says:

    I strongly oppose Wellmart base Premium rate increase of over
    12 % on my health coverage.
    I am not employed with an income from any job, and have never had a claim with Wellmart. They recently had a rate increase and this I strongly believe is uncalled for.MS

  141. I Linscott Says:

    How can some nonprofit health insurers justify hiking premiums year after year when they are sitting on a mountain of surplus funds?
    >
    > Over the last ten years, nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurers across the country have set aside billions of dollars in surpluses. At the same time, some these health plans raised insurance premiums for consumers every year.
    >
    > At Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, we have a new report called “How Much is Too Much.” Based on what we have documented, we think state insurance commissioners need to take a hard look at the surpluses collected by nonprofit BCBS health plans and do more to rein in these skyrocketing rate increases.
    >
    > We examined how Blue nonprofits have hit consumers with big premium hikes while they built up enormous reserves. These rate hikes could have been reduced or avoided if companies had taken just a part of their surplus and put it toward rate stability, while leaving sufficient funds to ensure financial solvency.
    >
    > Consumers depend on state insurance commissioners to ensure that insurers are financially strong, but they’re also counting on regulators to help make sure that coverage is affordable. The new health reform law requires the Department of Health and Human Services to define and states to review “unreasonable” rate increases. It also mandates how much of a premium must be spent for health care and how much for administrative overhead (also called the “medical-loss ratio”). We’re urging state insurance commissioners to develop standards for minimum and maximum surplus that is appropriate for insurers to hold. We’re also encouraging all state commissioners to consider rejecting or reducing rate increases, particularly on individual market plans, when the company has more surplus than is necessary for solvency protection.
    >
    > Maintaining a healthy surplus is absolutely critical, but health insurance premiums shouldn’t keep going up year after year when some of these insurers are accumulating such huge surpluses. It’s time for regulators to look into these surpluses and crack down on bloated surpluses to help keep runaway premiums in check.
    >
    > My husband retired a yr ago. I have to purchase private health insurance for the next 4 yrs.
    > > I pay over $900 a month for Blue Cross and my husband has Blue Cross supplemental for over $100. We’ve paid a total of $12,455.40 this year. I was at the medical clinic once this past year for a cold and my husband has not been to the Dr since he retired. What a profit they’ve made from us for many many yrs and I’m sure others similar.
    >
    > > We have to pay for this out of retirement savings. In four yrs we will have paid $49,821.60 at todays cost. We didn’t even make that much in a year.
    > >
    > > I’d like to know what Blue Cross profits are for a yr and what the CEO and others make per yr. I have been unable to find any statements for IA Blue Cross, of course. In researching I found listed collectively that Blue Cross has 52 billion in capitol.

    > > Maybe now wasn’t the time to build such costly headquaters. What did that cost?
    > >
    > > I know they outsource a lot of their billing jobs and are paying them at a lesser wage.
    > >
    > > They seem to be allowed to have a large insurance increase every year. Maybe they should take ‘one’ million less in profits for one year, when their consumers are having such a hard time meeting the costs. The insurance costs have risen so much that people can’t even afford it.

    I am forwarding one previous article from Chicago Business listing large increases in CEOs and others pay and their profit margin.
    >
    > I find it sad that Blue Cross has such a monopoly in Iowa that they think they can control and always get away with more price increases. Greedy, greedy.
    >
    > > Thank you. I DO protest this increase.
    MS

  142. I Linscott Says:

    Just skimming through headlines –

    Although Wellmark keeps getting richer they do like to lavish a big chunck of their permium revenue on themselves.

    Briefs –
    S Carolina – net income of 60.7 million on revenue of 2.1 billion

    Michigan – income of 19.2 billion

    Minnesota – 9 billion

    Calif – net income of 9.7 billion

    All with Blue Cross – just gives examples for people to see what these ins companies profit is.

    What is Wellmarks patient loss ratio??? Bet they finally have had to start paying out some to hospitals – or they will. Can’t keep getting away with what they have been.
    MS

  143. I Linscott Says:

    This article talks about the so called non profit Blue Cross & Blue Shield.
    Reading through further it says how Tenn used their profits for a huge mulitmillion dollar new headquaters instead of lowering premiums.
    Gee, that sure sounds familiar in IA.
    Lists billions in profits.
    What a rip off!

    .Blue Cross, Blue Shield Get Richer by Borrowing Playbook of Corporate Insurers
    Posted: 05/ 2/11 08:20 AM ET React Inspiring Greedy Typical Scary Outrageous Amazing Innovative Infuriating Read more Anthem Blue Cross , Blue Cross Blue Shield , Aetna , Chattanooga , Cigna , Humana , Medical-Loss Ratio , Mlr , Unitedhealth , Wellpoint , Business News .

    I’ve written frequently in recent weeks about the eye-popping profits the big publicly traded health companies have been reporting. Last year — as the number of Americans without health insurance grew to nearly 51 million — the five largest for-profit insurers (Aetna, CIGNA, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint) had combined profits of $11.7 billion.

    But that was so 2010.

    If the profits those companies made during the first three months of this year are an indication of things to come, 2011 will more than likely be the most profitable year ever for these new darlings of Wall Street.

    But lest you think only those big New York Stock Exchange-listed corporations have figured out how to make money hand-over-fist while their base of policyholders is shrinking, take a look at the so-called nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

    Don’t think for a minute that the Blues are any more interested in your health and well-being than the companies that at least own up to being in business to make a hefty profit off of insuring the healthy and shunning the sick.

    According to a report by Carl McDonald of Citi Investment Research and Analysis, last year was the most profitable year in history for the Blues plans, which enjoy significant tax advantages because of their claim to be nonprofit and terrific community citizens. Collectively, the Blues reported more than $5.5 billion in net income in 2010.

    Not only that, but the Blues now have more than five times that amount in capital above what state regulators require. As McDonald noted in his report, maintaining such a huge reserve should make regulators think twice before approving rate increases in the future.

    Our analysis of the financial position of 33 Blue Cross plans suggests that their capital position has reached a level that’s difficult for the nonprofits to justify, and if sustained, will lead to significant tension between the nonprofit Blues, regulators and consumer activists,” McDonald wrote. “According to our data, the nonprofit Blues held a total of $52 billion in capital at the end of 2010, or more than $29 billion above minimum regulatory requirements.

    One of the ways the Blues have been able to amass such fortunes is by avoiding paying for care in exactly the same way the big for-profit companies do. They are rapidly moving their policyholders into high-deductible plans and spending far less on medical care — and far more on overhead — than they have in the past.

    How much insurance firms spend on medical care is measured by what is called the medical loss ratio.

    In 1993, the average medical loss ratio in the health insurance industry was 95 percent, which meant that insurers spent 95 cents out of every dollar they collected in premiums on medical care. In their quest for profits, all insurers, regardless of their tax status, have been spending less on care in recent years. The average medical loss ratio is now closer to 80 percent.

    McDonald found that some of the Blues are spending far less than that these days. The medical loss ratio at the Texas Blues, for example, was just 64.4 percent last year.

    Beginning this year, as a result of the health care reform law, insurers will have to maintain medical loss ratios of at least 80 percent. Had that provision of the law been in effect in 2010, McDonald says the Texas Blues plan would have had to price its policies for individuals about 12 percent lower than it actually did.

    McDonald found that some Blues are much greedier than others when it comes to making profits and building up big surpluses.

    It turns out that the Blues plans that have to compete with the big for-profit companies behave, well, just like the big for-profits. In other words, the competition actually works against the interests of policyholders. The profit margins and the size of the surpluses of the Blues in states where the for-profits have a significant presence were on average considerably higher than in states where the for-profits don’t have as much market share.

    So much for the myth that competition among insurers results in lower premiums.

    Health insurance is one part of the U.S. economy where the free market works beautifully for the insurers and a few executives (and shareholders of for-profit companies) but horribly for the rest of us.

    The nonprofit Blues don’t have to reward shareholders, but they do lavish a big chunk of their premium revenue on themselves. Take BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee as an example.

    Last year was a very good year for the Tennessee Blues. It raised premiums an average of 6.5 percent, which was enough to increase profits five-fold over 2009 and boost its reserves to almost 50 percent more than the $955 million required by the state. Its medical loss ratio for individual policyholders was only 76.7 percent.

    The company has been building up the reserves for many years, but instead of giving money back to policyholders in the form of rate reductions, it has built itself a veritable palace overlooking downtown Chattanooga.

    Under pressure by lawmakers and consumer advocates a few years back to reduce its surplus, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee decided instead to spend $300 million on a new 950,000 square-foot headquarters. The building has a scenic view of the Tennessee River and is on historic Cameron Hill, where during the Civil War the Union built a fort and fired cannons at the Confederate army.

    When the company’s 4,000 employees moved in 2009 to their new digs, they left vacant several buildings in downtown Chattanooga. City officials now realize it will be hard to find new tenants for those buildings, but that didn’t stop them from giving BlueCross an unprecedented 16-year, 50 percent tax break back in 2005.

    Blue Cross plans in several other states have also recently built grand and shiny new headquarters buildings with money from policyholders that could have been spent providing care and insuring more Americans. But why would they want to do that?

    The bottom line: nonprofits can be extraordinarily profitable if your nonprofit happens to be a Blue Cross or Blue Shield plan.
    MS

  144. I Linscott Says:

    Home > This Week’s Crain’s > News > Blue Cross executives’ compensation soars as controversy rages over health insurance premium increases
    > By: Mike Colias March 15, 2010
    > 28 0 3 0Print | Email | 22 comments
    > Executives at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois’ corporate parent pocketed big bonuses last year, as more people lost health insurance and rising premiums put insurers at the center of a political maelstrom.
    >
    > Patricia Hemingway Hall, CEO of Health Care Service Corp., saw her total compensation jump 62% in 2009, to $8.7 million, according to a recent company regulatory filing. Predecessor Ray McCaskey’s $15.7-million payment was bonus compensation built up in the years preceding his 2008 retirement. He served as CEO of the Chicago-based holding company for Blue Cross plans in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico for 16 years.
    >
    > All of the non-profit insurer’s top 10 executives saw total compensation jump at least 48% — it more than doubled for six of them — thanks to large bonuses. The company revised its bonus program “to reflect current market-competitive talent practices,” according to a statement. It pegs bonuses to goals for membership and earnings growth, and for keeping a lid on administrative costs.
    >
    > “To manage a business of this size and complexity, our compensation must be competitive to attract the industry’s best and brightest,” the company says.
    >
    >
    >
    > Big payouts to insurance execs will provide more ammunition to congressional Democrats and Obama administration officials who are pillorying insurers in an effort to revive health reform legislation. Payouts also rile some policyholders frustrated by spiraling health care costs and the threat of policy cancellations after they get sick, a controversial practice that’s especially common in Illinois (Crain’s, March 8).
    >
    > “It’s greedy and outrageous for them to make huge profits and bonuses when small businesses are dropping their coverage because they can’t afford it,” says Linda Cherrington, 60, who along with her husband owns Cherrington Design & Building Inc. in Wheaton. After 10 years with Blue Cross, they switched the company’s coverage to another insurer last year when their premium jumped 45%.
    >
    > Execs’ pay at Health Care Service has risen sharply in recent years, state records show. Including his 2009 compensation, Mr. McCaskey took in $36.5 million over a three-year stretch. He was the highest-paid CEO among Blue Cross operators during that stretch, according to the AIS Report on Blue Cross & Blue Shield plans. (The independent trade publication hasn’t compiled a 2009 ranking.)
    >
    > Mr. McCaskey’s pay surpassed even that of the chief of Indianapolis-based Wellpoint Inc., the nation’s largest health insurer, whose 2009 revenue of $65.03 billion tripled that of Health Care Service.
    >
    > Health Care Service is a mutual reserve company, owned by its policyholders. Its 12.5 million members put it among the top five health insurers nationally; most other large players are publicly traded companies that generally have higher annual revenue and more employees.
    >
    > INCENTIVES
    >
    > Health Care Service can’t offer stock options, which make up the bulk of a CEO’s pay at some public companies. Still, private firms often use long-term award plans that resemble incentive programs at public firms, says Mark Reilly, a partner at Chicago-based Compensation Consulting Consortium.
    >
    > Ms. Hall’s pay last year topped that of Humana Inc. CEO Michael McCallister, whose pay was $6.5 million including stock options, according to a regulatory filing last week. Humana had $30.96 billion in revenue last year, compared with $17.34 billion for Health Care Service. (Health Care Service publicly discloses only its health-premium revenue, which represents the bulk of its business, though it also owns life insurance firms and other subsidiaries.)
    >
    > Most other big insurers haven’t reported 2009 pay figures. In 2008, Ms. Hall’s $5.4 million in total pay was higher than that of Minneapolis-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. CEO Stephen Helmsley, who received $3.2 million including stock options. But both were dwarfed by Aetna CEO Ronald Williams’ $24.3 million.
    >
    > Directors of Health Care Service generally were paid less than those at the larger insurers after factoring in stock options, with one exception: Chairman Milton Carroll’s $800,421 total compensation in 2008 was by far the highest among non-executive directors of any Blue Cross plan or any of the five largest publicly traded insurers. His paycheck grew to $944,951 in 2009. The compensation “is reflective of the fiduciary duties and scope of responsibilities for this role,” the company says.
    >
    > Health Care Service posted a net profit of $514 million on its health insurance business last year, down 31% from a year earlier and roughly half of the more than $1-billion profit it turned annually from 2004 to 2006. Rising unemployment trimmed the membership rolls of its employer-based group policies. Health Care service itself eliminated 650 jobs, or 4% of its workforce, last August.
    >
    > Higher-than-expected medical costs last year hurt profits, but the company also decided to plow more money back into the business and got more competitive on pricing, according to a January report from Moody’s Investors Service. Blue Cross says its average premium increase in Illinois this year will be 10%, lower than most other health insurers’ rate hikes.
    >
    > Mr. Reilly, the consultant, was surprised that the firm’s executive compensation jumped so dramatically in a down economy.
    >
    > “I would think a policyholder-owned company would pay executives a little less than a public company because they don’t seem to have the quarter-to-quarter challenges and shareholder scrutiny,” Mr. Reilly says. “They’re able to fly under the radar a bit more.”
    MS

  145. I Linscott Says:

    > My husband retired a yr ago. I have to purchase private health insurance for the next 4 yrs.
    > > I pay over $900 a month for Blue Cross and my husband has Blue Cross supplemental for over $100. We’ve paid a total of $12,455.40 this year. I was at the medical clinic once this past year for a cold and my husband has not been to the Dr since he retired. What a profit they’ve made from us for many many yrs and I’m sure others similar.
    >
    > > We have to pay for this out of retirement savings. In four yrs we will have paid $49,821.60 at todays cost. We didn’t even make that much in a year.
    > >
    > > I’d like to know what Blue Cross profits are for a yr and what the CEO and others make per yr. I have been unable to find any statements for IA Blue Cross, of course. In researching I found listed collectively that Blue Cross has 52 billion in capitol.

    > > Maybe now wasn’t the time to build such costly headquaters. What did that cost?
    > >
    > > I know they outsource a lot of their billing jobs and are paying them at a lesser wage.
    > >
    > > They seem to be allowed to have a large insurance increase every year. Maybe they should take ‘one’ million less in profits for one year, when their consumers are having such a hard time meeting the costs. The insurance costs have risen so much that people can’t even afford it.

    I am forwarding one previous article from Chicago Business listing large increases in CEOs and others pay and their profit margin.
    > >
    >
    > I find it sad that Blue Cross has such a monopoly in Iowa that they think they can control and always get away with more price increases. Greedy, greedy.
    >
    > > Thank you. I DO protest this increase.
    MS

  146. Joy Goins Says:

    The proposed increase request in the base premium rate concerns me greatly. Last year we received a 16% rate increase and now they are requesting another raise. When the economy is as vulnerable as it is presently, affordable health care is a must to insure our Iowa citizens have access to care. I see uneccesary tests and medications ordered for the elderly which drives health costs higher. A few years ago I was hospitalized and when I received my insurance notice of payments to providers, I noticed an error by a provider for a service I never received. I notified Wellmark of the error and I was told that they had made payment to the provider already and there was nothing they could do. Perhaps more
    policing of claims would provide sufficient income for Wellmark to cover their rising costs. MS

  147. Bob Holder Says:

    At the present time my family pays $624.00 with a $10,000 deductible,with a 13.30% increase i seriously believe we would no longer be able too afford health insurance coverage.Seems to me that even with this hearing,wellmark will still raise the rates,thanks to obamacare.Thats why my vote is “NO”….Thanks for letting me voice my comment.MS

  148. Anna-Maria Cornell Says:

    NO on Wellmark’s premium increase.
    Please reject Wellmark’s request to increase base premium rates.
    They have had an increase effective April 1, 2012. Now they want another 12.2%.
    I’m self-insured and when I signed up, my policy started in 2011 at $240/month. In April, due to the last rate increase, it went up to $260. If it goes up again, I may have to consider cancelling my policy.
    It is not acceptable that Wellmark is raising rates again. My wage has not gone up and I don’t foresee it going up in the near future. I cannot continue to absorb these rate increases.MS

  149. Maury Tieszen Says:

    To Whom it may Concern; As a small business owner it is almost impossible to keep up with ever increasing costs. I own a small trucking business, and with the cost of fuel,
    truck insurance, tires, oil, etc., at ever increasing rates it’s hard to show a positive bottom line. We are already grouped in the best coverage for people of our age, plus we
    have a $5,000.00 deductible. Since starting our business and having to provide our own health insurance, our rates have alredy increased 100% in ten years. Our average
    income has only risen 3%. How much longer can a small business survive? I know this won’t influence anyone’s decision, but I wanted you to know the predicament we and other small businesses are in. Thank you.
    MS

  150. Luis Guzman Says:

    I have been diabetic for 42 years. I do not use alcohol nor smoke.
    I have been using an insulin pump for 37 years. Thus, I have no diabetic complications.

    Our company is a provider for BC, selling insulin pumps and diabetic supplies to patients in the state of Iowa.

    I exercise regularly and with a personal trainer, in order to keep my weight under control.

    I routinely see my primary doctor, as well as specialists when necessary. I have not been hospitalized in the time I have had Wellmark/BC insurance.

    However, I have to pay over $1000.00 per month for my insurance premium. That does not include dependents.
    I would appreciate you considering no premium increase this next year, as my history shows I have actually saved BC money, with my great preventive care. MS

  151. Aubrey Saunders Says:

    I want to voice my opinion on the rates how they may be going up in April. I am a college student who started paying for my own insurance in my senior year of high school. I receive no help from my parents for my insurance. If the rates go up as high as predicted I will probably no longer be able to afford insurce coverage. Thank you very much. MS

  152. Cheryl DeLaughter Says:

    I’m on partial disablity now if my insurance increases I will not be able to afford insurance. I have surgery scheduled now. I vote NO to rate increase. MS

  153. Mark Zieser Says:

    Instead of raising rates should cut Wellmarks pay instead. I vote NO to a rate increase. MS

  154. Dan Krause Says:

    The rates have increased already past 3-4 yrs. I was in the hospital 2.5 days and the bill was over $10,000. reason rates are going up the Doctors are charging too much. people can’t afford insurance. many have to have fund raisers to get money for doctor bills. I vote NO to rate increase. MS

  155. Kathleen Eilers Says:

    I’m writing to protest yet another increase in insurance rates. they have already gone up this year once. I do not recieve a raise in income but the cost of everything else is up. it is very difficult to understand why the cost of all those with no insurance is born on the backs of those who carry insurance. i know medical costs are rising but only because so many have no insurance. Raising the costs of insurance puts a heavy burden on many people who no must decide what they will have to do without in order to afford those extra costs. MS

  156. George Waits Says:

    I realize writing this will do absolutely no good, as in the past, BCBS has always been given what they want. My wife has retired and I lost my medical insurance through her job. Iam employed and we are buying my health insurance through BCBS. We can’t afford for them to raise rates, whenever they wish, at the cost of $25. or more each time, every year. My paycheck took a cut also, with eht ecomomy as bad as it is, I think it is unfair of them to raise the rates so high.MS

  157. Nancy Stammer Says:

    In the past 3yrs they have raised my premium 3 times, with increases of nearly 20% in 2010, over 9% in 2011, and 11% in 2012. I have now recieved 12.2% request. When I started in 2006, I paid $240.10mo and deductible of $1700. In 2011 I switched to a higher deductible $2700. with the proposed increase, I will now be charged $354.88mo. I will be paying $114.75 or 47.8% more than when I took out the policy seven years ago and a $1050. higher deductable. This is outrageous.. I implore you give your customers a break, If medical services have gone up 10.33% from last year, help find ways to reduce costs. Help find those who fraudulently file claims or work the system. Advocate for laws limiting medical liablity. give rewards to people who work to be healthy. your rate increase includeds a 1.44% hike in adm expenses and taxes. how about a freeze on wages? How about reducing expenditures and perks to employees? please consider how your increases are hurting those who are working at a very minimal salary, with no benefits. Vote NO to rate increase. MS

  158. Patty Tausz Says:

    I feel that the proposed monthly increase to my BCBS plan is excessive. I’m healthy with little to no claims submitted. Just over a year ago my premiums were increased. I had to change my deductible so that my health care insurance was affordable. I receive no cost of living raise to cover this increase in health insurance premiums and my retirement income remains the same. Please don’t allow an increase in our base premium rate. MS

  159. Debra Linn Says:

    While I understand the healthcare costs are skyrocketing, there has to be another way for this company to cut costs. I don’t feel Wellmark is being very responsible with the money they take in each year. there has been an increase in rates each year . Our income simply can’t keep up with these increases. The quality and amount of healthcare I can afford has decreased as steadily and costs have risen. I pay $2770 a yr in premiums with an hefty out of pocket minimum, the policy doesn’t even pay a fraction of my basic expenses. thank goodness I’m healthy. still, these rates cannot continue to raise like thiseach year. This is ridiculous. Wellmark has a new facility, I heard on news last night they were looking to aquire property downtown for their WMCA? Seems they should be looking for ways to cut their expenses, not add to them in this ecomomy.MS

  160. Julie McCarthy Says:

    iam deeply concerned about another increase for my health insurance premium. Every year I have had to pay more. If this continues to go higher I will be forced to drop my insurance.Please let there be NO more increases. It is very desperate here.MS

  161. Kevin Bouska Says:

    I don’t think it is necessary to raise our Health insurance premiums 13.3%. MS

  162. Brian Jones Says:

    The health insurance services you provide are invaluable. It’s virtually unfeasible and foolish not to have health insurance. My provider choices are limited, and I want cometent and comprehensive coverage. Wellmark’s premium increases each year are unacceptable. No other industry could have such substantial cost increases and expect customers to stay. Increases are never offset with a premium reduction. any business that pushes all increased costs onto the consumer would go out of business.
    Health cost increases are hurting families, the economy, and threaten this countries way of life. May I suggest offering affordable plans that people actually want or need. Customers are willing to help control costs by reducing areas of coverage if you would simply redesign plans that actually offer what we need. I do not need to pay for every doctors visit for a sniffle or for my aspirin.Outrageous premium increases are no longer acceptable. you must find other ways to limit your costs and control costs. My premiums are paid with this explectation and you have failed miserably every year. I am dissatisfied with the sub-par mgt of my health insurance and costs. american’s have had to tighten their belts in this fiscal down turn. it’s your responsiblilty to do the same.MS

  163. Brenda Hermes Says:

    I understand you need to make $$$ but you can’t be price gouging. people can’t afford it. How can you even ask for 12% all other businesses have had to reduce to stay in business. How is it fair your employees can still get raises? We’ve had BCBS since 1989, self employeed we don’t use it treat it like gold to keep costs down. what will happen we reach our 70’s and need it. It just isn’t fair. I vote NO to increases.. MS

  164. Connie Humphrey Says:

    I am sending this email to you with high hopes but low expectations. My hopes have been dashed these past four years by the ever-increasing cost of our Wellmark health insurance. To put it simply, I just am not capable of understanding the nearly 50% in increases that have been forced upon the insured by Wellmark in the past four years.

    We are a family of two self-employed 60 year olds and we are paying $10,000.00 annually for our health insurance. (We are healthy, I might add!) This is not a high-benefit policy. We have trimmed it down to the very minimum, basic benefits with a high deductible. To impose another 12%, (or more?), increase just seems unbelievable, egregious and just plain unfair. And this rate increase is not being given to all policy holders, just the ones in our “rating class”! At the very least, it should be divided among all of the rating classes so as not to dig into the pockets of one class so unfairly!

    There needs to be a fair and impartial review of Wellmark; its expenditures, including salaries of the upper management, and profit margins. Perhaps this company should learn to tighten their belts like all of we insured have had to learn to do. (For instance, how many people really read the “Blue” pamphlet?)

    Isn’t it time for Wellmark to search for other solutions to their cash flow problems instead of always taking the easy way out and just raising premiums over and over again?

    Is anyone really listening to us anymore? Does anyone really care about how much this increase will hurt so many financially-strapped people? Is compassion lost in a world of greed?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I hope it is one of many supporting the cause of no insurance premium increases.

    Sincerely,
    An already high-premium-paying customer of Wellmark MS

  165. Tim Armstrong Says:

    I’m writing to voice my opposition to the proposed health insurance
    rate increase by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. This is
    the third time in the recent past Wellmark has asked for some type of
    increase. It is obvious that many can’t afford health insurance given
    the high cost, I am hopeful the new health care laws will remedy this.
    This affects my son’s insurance, he is a relatively healthy child,
    and I understand he is in a pool of insured, and the rates reflect his
    pool’s demographics, but I don’t see how a company with a conscience
    can continue to burden families with increases. For profit companies
    are not a good marriage in this instance as the bottom line seems to
    be more important than affordable health care. I see the Iowa
    Insurance Commissioner will rule on the increase, and an independent
    consultant will be involved. There is always a question of
    impartiality, what political party these individuals are affiliated
    with, and did Wellmark contribute to these parties. Perhaps there is
    nothing to this, but Iowa is dragging its feet in regards to enacting
    the new health care provisions, and I am not optimistic about this.
    We have done as much as possible to lower our rates as far as
    increasing our deductible, we can increase even more, but it is to the
    point where we’re almost to the limit. I am also going to write to
    Senators Harkin and Grassley, and to the state department of
    insurance. Iowa should be in the forefront of health care reform, but
    we are taking the back seat.MS

  166. Luci Crandall Says:

    Is there a healthcare program available that might help me?

    I am self-employed. My gross income last year was $16,000. After expenses my net income was less than $9000.

    I pay for my own health insurance. I have been with Blue-Cross Blue Shield of Iowa since May of 2009. When I
    first started, I paid $180 per month and my deductible was $1500. Each year my premium goes up
    20%. My premiums were up to $320 and I have had to reduce my amount of coverage and now have a premium
    of $251.35 per month and a $5000 deductible.

    Like most Americans, I have fallen on some serious hardships since 2009. I had to sell my home in a short sale,
    my car was repossessed and through all of this I have kept up my health insurance payments. It seems that
    with my income I should qualify for some sort of assistance when it comes to my health care.

    Am I wrong? I have never asked for assistance before for anything. I am throwing my towel in the ring and
    giving up. Is there help out there for me? If not, I will be uninsured. I can’t afford my insurance and food.MS

  167. Barb Newhouse Says:

    I am responding to the letter about insurance premium going up. I’ m totally against this rate increase. I have a high deductable as it is. I can’t even go the doctors most of the time, cause everything goes toward the deductable, then I have doctors bills to pay. Each year I choose a higher deductable so I can afford the premium. I know there people who always goes to the doctor and use the insurance. I feel like I am being punished cause those people abuse the insurance and I’m being force to have my premium go up. Please don’t raise the health insurance premium. MS

  168. Rhonda Olson Says:

    In response to the Notice of Proposed base Premium Rate Increase and
    Public Hearing, the same question keeps going thru the minds of
    thousands of people…”how much more can one pay for Health Care!!”.
    These continued increases are completely getting out of hand and causing
    much difficulty for the working citizens. When more is going out for
    Health Coverage than there is coming in wages…..how is it that one is
    to survive? What it boils down to is eating or having insurance. There
    has to be a cap on these premiums at some point! Is it a wonder more
    and more are dropping their insurance…..there is simply only so much
    money to go around….it cant all go for Health Care! How is one
    supposed to cover the other cost of living expenses when Health Care is
    soaking up over 80% of ones income?!

    I would love to attend this public hearing but as it turns out….I
    can not afford to take a day off without pay…as many others. With the
    high cost of living…..every penny from work in necessary. Wellmark
    Bluecross/Blueshield is going to do as they wish anyway so what is the point of attending?!
    MS

  169. richard White Says:

    Im a small business in Janesville iowa I cant afford anymore increases Its hard enough to stay going right now with the costs of everything. This is just another case of big profits and fat paychecks for the insurance industry. I cant believe there asking for permission to raise are rates my anwser is no MS

  170. Mary Lou Says:

    As a retired professional on a fixed income I strongly protest this rate increase. The iid.iowa.gov seem to just automatically rubber stamp whatever Wellmark asks for. If any health premium relief is ever going to happen someone has to take a stand. Who better than you? BCBS started as an insurance company with a cost saving mission. It now is a company demanding huge profitability. Please do not allow this increase.MS

  171. Michael Wilson Says:

    Although I am am avid follower of politics, I have not often written to my representatives in Washington DC, but I believe you should know what I face currently. I am 63yrs old and have ben self-employed for 20 yrs, during that time, I have purchased full health insurance for my wife and myself from BCBS through Farm Bureau Group. I realize that premiums are based somewhat on age but I am VERY healthy and us little of my insurance other than annual physical and blood work. I have mildy elevated blood pressure which is controlled via a small dose of prescription drug. Wellmark has a history of increasing premiums virtually each year. When I work with my gent, he can always find an alternative that has less of and increase, but I always end up with reduced coverage and higher deductible. I just recieved my annual notice of increase from Wellmark and believe that the excessive increases they are proposing are a result of Obamacare. I have summarized my increases below
    2008 -$5,528 wife and self
    2009 – $5,889 reduced coverage increased deductible
    2010 – $7,015 same plan as 2009
    2011 -$7,337 same plan as 2009-2010
    2012 – $5,249 wife dropped off
    2013 – proposed $6,041 Me alone same plan as 2009-2011
    These types of increases are unacceptable to every working American. Nothing in my business is going up at these rates and even some of my products include petroleum components. I am middle class to pandor to the unions and illegals who are drowning our system.
    if you have any influence or ideas to help us out here in Iowa, please bring them forward. These increases are only the beginning of the increased living expenses we will all see as a result of this unwelcome legislation. At a minimum, please introduce legislation that would force everyone in government to live under the same Obamacare as the balance of American. That would be a BOLD and you will be amazed at the support you will have from everyone in your state and across the country. I realize that you get thousands of letters asking for many things, but I sincerely hope that your response to this is something more than a form letter stating your general position on a myriad of topics. I am sending a copy to the Iowa Insurance Commissioner as well. MS

  172. Allen Darrach Says:

    I recently received notification the BCBS has asked permission to increase its base premiums 13.3%. According to the chart, the charge from the current premium will be as follows. Medical services…$70.71 Admin exp & taxes..$6.11 Operating margin..$2.81
    Last year increase that was charged to us (before adj our plan to a single with higher deductible) was 33%. This is excessive to add another charge on top of this. By using th numbers presented, the medical services portion alone would be $848.52 per year per individual. Are they really suggesting that the cost PER INDIVIDUAL will be $848.52 per year more just as a matter of routine? While Obamacare unfortunately increases some costs for the insurance companies. I would encourage you NOT to approve the total increase proposed per individual. It does not seem possible that just standard costs will increase this amount. MS

  173. Christina Hermsen Says:

    I’ve been paying for family health insurance since 2001. I’ve made so many deductions on the benefit side just trying to be able to afford insurance and now the premiums are still escalating way beyond what the top of the line plan used to cover. It’s a struggle to pay out of pocket costs AND premiums. Please consider all your options before enacting another premium rate increase. MS

  174. Jenna Sabin Says:

    I was on title 19 for 3-4 yrs. Now have my own insurance very disturbing they wanted to increase rates. Budget is much tighter they should look out for Clients. do you really need this much increase? money is tight and every penny counts. VOTE NO
    MS

  175. Rebecca Michael Says:

    Enough is enough each year for the last 5 years it has increased $70.00 a month.. Healthcare system needs reform. forcing people to cancel insurance and go without. Who paid for your new building downtown? STOP this vote NO. MS

  176. Rose sperfslage Says:

    Hi,
    I would like to explain why I can’t afford the increase in BCBS insurance premiums. I work as a manager for a small business who doesn’t provide insurance for their employees. I have to pay for private insurance. I have had thyroid cancer three years ago so that puts me in a high risk bracket. I pay half of the income of that i make in one year out in premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance. I make under $20,000.00/year and I have two children that I can’t afford insurance for. One of my sons doesn’t have any insurance and the other son relies on Iowa Care. I have been trying to pay these high insurance premiums as a single mother and I can’t stretch my income any more to pay another premium increase. Please don’t allow anymore increases for me!MS
    Rose

  177. Dawson Ackerman Says:

    Why is Wellmark seeking ANOTHER 12% plus increase on premiums and inturn giving away $30 for EVERY 3 point basket Iowa based college basketball teams make??? TOTAL STUPIDITY!! Seems as if they could better use that money to LOWER premiums!! DON”T ADVERTISE WITH MY HARD EARNED $$$$!! MS

  178. Linda Lambert Says:

    I am a widow living on social security working part-time. I am paying $644. per month for my health insurance and it increases every year. I am very healthy and have annual physicals. Because of a back surgery 3 yrs. Agom I cannot shop around for more affordable insurance. Even though I have not had any issues with my back and have not returned to the surgeon. I would so much appreciate a lower premium until I can go on Medicare.
    Thank you, MS

  179. James Philp Says:

    I am writing to address BCBS request to increase its base premium rates by 13.3% which I strongly oppose. This is, once again, another huge increase for one year. And this will pose a very serious burden to all contract holders. This is too high of an increase to add to the already exorbitant rates that they already charge. I’ve hardly ever had to use my insurance and to add another huge increase on top of what I already pay is totally unreasonable. I do not understand why they can get away with these huge increases year after year. Our wages are lucky to get a raise of a meek 2-4%. And that is for those of us who are lucky to still have jobs. This is way above the normal rate hike for their cost of doing business.
    I joined the group in 2010, to save money on monthly premiums from what I was paying another Welmark group(rates are for 1 adult) In april of 2011, my rates raised approx 13.6% and I did not use my insurance at all during that time. The April 2012, the premiums raised another 9.7%. As a memeber of this group, I ave used my insurance for one doctor visit and perscription for antibiotics for a cold. With another increase of 13.3% my premiums will be $477.39 a month. So, my premiums will raise $139.24 mo. for a yearly increase of $1,670.88 in a duration of 30 months, since I have become a member. These rates are totally out of line.
    I am asking that you consider all the facts of their request. I’m sure I am not alone in asking that the practice of raising rates over 10% a yr can be denied. We cannot help the fact that we are going in to a different age group as we all age. That is a fixed raise for all of us. But for those of us who do have insurance and are lucky enough not to use it constantly. These increases are ridiculous. I have to ask, are these huge increases due to Obama Care beginning to be implemented in 2014? MS

  180. Charles Reinert Says:

    My wife and I are small business owners and have purchased our health insurance from Wellmark BCBS for decades. We work very hard to pay for our own health insurance so we are not a burden on society. However, it is becoming an increasingly burdensome on our business to keep pace with the increased premium costs.
    We experienced an 11.5% increase in 2011. We just received notification of a proposed 13.3% increase for 2013. That is an increase of 24.8% in premium cost to our business in two years time if you grant the proposed increase. Talk about inflation!!! We are trusting that your wisdom and common sense will prevail and that you will not grant the request for the 13.3% increase or any amount close to that. Small business is the heartbeat of this country. Rate increases of this magnitude will force us to drop coverage and possibly be uninsured. MS

  181. Nancy Morgan Says:

    I’m writing today to share my thoughts on Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield’s recent rate increase request.

    I ask that the IID consider rejecting Wellmark’s 12.2% rate increase. While I am aware of the yearly increases in medical expenses in this country, I very much object to Wellmark’s decision to meet these increased costs by asking those of us who are least able to afford an increase to absorb the full cost. Instead of asking large employer groups to shoulder any of this increase, Wellmark will instead only raise premiums for individual subscribers.

    As the IID knows, those of us who purchase insurance on an individual basis do so without the benefit of the reduced rates group coverage brings; we have no one to share the claims risk and so our premiums remain high. I’ll note that none of us who purchase individual coverage will see any increase in our incomes or wages in one year that could possibly offset 12.2%. This kind of rate increase will certainly reduce disposable income and overall buying power for those of us with individual coverage, impacting our local economy.

    I strongly urge the IID to, if not outright reject, then to significantly lower the amount of the increase Wellmark is asking individual subscribers to pay. While I look forward to a reduction in my premium the Affordable Care Act will bring in 2014, I must still try and afford my premiums for next year. MS

  182. Ruth Chancellor Says:

    As a retiree, I am extremely concerned about my continuous increase in health premiums that greatly exceed the Cost of Living Index. Over the last three years my premiums have increased by 17.6% in 2010; 11.6% in 2011 and 18.9% in 2012. This accumulative effect is about 50% increase in three years, which gives me a current premium of $630.00 per month. Now, Wellmark is asking for another Base Premium increase of 13.3% , which would bring my premiums up to $700.00 per month. At this rate it is an extreme hardship for me. I am 60 years old and cannot afford these types of increases.MS

  183. Orpha Keller Says:

    It is evident from the last poll of the Iowa citizens that they are not in favor of Obamacare. I hope that the Insurance Commission will have the good judgement to preserve the private insurance industry as a workable alternative. I firmly believe that the industry must be encouraged to expand its customer numbers in such a way that the younger, healthier Iowans find it sensible to be part of it. I don’t think that Wellmark can do that by raising the rates at this time.
    I dealt with insurance complanies for many years in a clinic. There were many frustrations in dealing with the person on the other end of the line. Usually this person was someone not trained in medicine an much of the doctor’s time was used up in endless explanations.From my communications with Iowa doctors this has not changed but multiplied.
    I sincerly believe that Wellmark needs to tighten its own belt, resist expanding overhead, exchanged a multiple of workers for a few good men. There is a real job to be done. If Wellmark sets a good example by reining in their expenses, the patient and doctor should benefit and more business will come Wellmarks way. Why nor encourage them from your end. I hope you will deny the request for this increase in rates. MS

  184. Teresa Scheitlin Says:

    Can’t afford it now already raised insurance April 2012. lost husband and his pention pays for insurance $331.35 mo. Already have $5500. deductable. Vote NO to 12.2% rate increase. MS

  185. Keith Frana Says:

    NO! They do not deserve a increase. They raise their rates every year. The monthly premium for health insurance goes up every year and my out of pocket cost go up every year also. When you have a $20.00 co-pay and it only pays for the right to say hi to the doctor and nothing else that is done during the exam then why should a person even have health insurance?
    MS

  186. Dean Dahlhauser Says:

    We just got ANOTHER notice that Blue Cross wants to increase their insurance premiums, HOW WRONG IS THAT!!! We just increased lots last year. Maybe they need to figure out what they are doing wrong and fix it and not keep increasing the premiums. Quit paying the Drs. 115.00 for 15min just because, quit paying off of codes the Drs. put down and make them prove they actually did something. There is so much wasted spending. They can be like K Mart and ask if we want our explanation of Health benefits emailed or sent and save some money. Stop raising my rates because they don’t want to look or do any work. We actually got to much money back one time and when I called in they said “don’t worry about it cause it is your money anyway and it would cause to much paper work” Don’t you think that didn’t cause peoples insurance to go up? I know you won’t take the hard road and do the right thing or use common sense but at least you have my point of view.MS

  187. Pam Murley Says:

    I was very diappointed to recently receive a postcard mailing from BCBS referring customers to their web-site as to why our rates are going up and what WE can do to reduce our health care costs. Really??? The reasons have not changed in how many years and we have already been told this information this year. So, some of our premium dollars are being used for this type of mailing not only for producing the cards, postage and the administration behind it? I just have to shake my head and say, really???
    MS

  188. Michelle Says:

    Please please please don’t let BCBS get their requested rate increase, They want almost a 12% to 17% rate increase that is way more than the cost of living. Why should this economy affect everyone but the insurance companies? Why should they not have to try and find cost savings within their administration. Instead they just keep raising cost and get to continue to do as they please. We keep paying more getting less. How do you expect people to have no problem coming up with an extra $75. $100. $150 a month on top of what they are already paying? Then do you know how upsetting it is to hear on the news, how happy the employers are they are getting the cheapest rate increase of only 4% that they have in a long time. Then those of us that the employer does not cover insurance we get 12% – 17%. Due to the economy we have not had a pay increase in over four years. But the insurance companies just keep raising rates. It’s just not fair very upsetting Wellmark comes off bragging about their profits for the year.
    It would be nice for a change not to have any increase. We don’t know how long we can hold onto health insurance at this cost.

  189. Phyllis Davis Says:

    Last 4 years rates have increased seems drastic. Las year at your meeting everyone asked for NO raise didn’t work. I’m 63 yrs old early retirement. income is $1,054.00mo pay you $654.00 with a $3500. deductible. So far in 2012 paid $7,840. in premiums, You paid doctor bills of $2493. I paid $1510. out of pocket. I know you said it goes by group but it’s not fair we pay someone elses bills when we are struggling anyway. Vote NO to 12.2% MS

  190. Donald Mumm Says:

    The rate increase of 12% asked for by Wellmark is so far over what the cost of living allowances by the government is that it seems rediculous. I have Mutual of Omaha for my health Ins. and they raised their rate last year by 14% and I assume they will also be asking for a rate increase again this year. On top of that I was raised into a higher rate because of age which all companys do. In all, this amounted to 16% increase.
    I guess my question is to the insurance Commisioner is what criteria is used to allow these outrageous rate increases? I think everyone know that elders on Social Security anly got a 1.5 or 1.7 % increase.
    Is allowing these large increases some of the problem as to why we are in trouble with Medicare?
    Do you know that all insurance companies met the new criteria of the affordable care act and 80% of their premiums go to health care?
    I think we assume it is your responsible, as an employee of the people of Iowa, to not grant these large rate increases and to watch our for us.
    MS

  191. Rick Block Says:

    I have a small business Can’t afford any more rate increases… Vote NO..

  192. Betty McFarland Says:

    I’m once again writing to protest my health ins rates, which is through BCBS. I protested last year against a raise still raised my premium $100.00 to $569.00 a month. I don’t see a doctor only for regular check ups.I don’t think the health ins is fair to people like me who can’t really afford the high rates. It will take my whole paycheck once a month. I have other bills and other expenses so I have to live on $600.00 check a month and I can’t do that. Or I’m at the point where I will have to sell my home, so I can pay my health ins. I’m only 61 yrs old. When my increase starts it will be $639.00 a month. one of my paychecks. I really can’t afford anymore rate increases. MS

  193. Roger Burger Says:

    I’m self employeed can’t take it any more wish I could raise my baseline by 12%. I lost $11,000. in my business this year no raise in 7yrs. but everything else goes up. obamacare is already distroying the country. should have a freeze on everything for 5yrs..MS

  194. JoAnne Wilkins Says:

    Last year our insurance prices were increased, and they had already been increased the spring before that. Now they are going up yet again! My salary has not increased by one penny in the past 3 years. The increase from 2 years ago to now if this increase goes through will be more than 53%. If there is any concern about Iowa families and small business owners, this increase should not be allowed.

  195. Sandy Dengler Says:

    To Whom It May Concern:
    I am putting in my two cents worth on this increase. I have worked at a bank for 15 years and each year the insurance premium has increased. Now my husband and I are on our own because I took another job that is part time and they do not offer insurance for 20 hours a week. I know it is just like everything else that it has to increase. We are middle class people trying to make a living. We have farmed for several years and pay our share of taxes. I feel that it is the middle class that gets hit with increases in everything. I would hope that the insurance company is doing its best on cutting down on mistakes within the insurance procedures. I would hope that they could consider lowering the percentage to give most people a break in their expenses. I think also the doctors and hospitals need to look at their practices to offer the best for their buck too. I am lucky to be able to work and pay for our insurance. Thank you for listening to me. MS

  196. Virginia and William Schaufel Says:

    My husband and I have carried Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield since August of 2009. Since then we have had premium increases routinely, to the point that we have had to keep increasing our deductible to keep our premium price affordable. Our deductible is now at the highest level available from Blue Cross Blue Shield, $10,800.

    The last price increase we got was described by the company as necessary because of the Affordable Care Act and the fact that there would now be no pre existing conditions and certain tests would be paid for. That increase was effective this past April. So this new increase they are asking for should be of no surprise because they have been averaging at least 2 price increases every year!

    This feels very much like having a gun to my head. Pay up or lose all coverage, even the really lousy coverage that ends up being catastrophic only coverage with a $10,800 deductable.

    The insurance companies need to be demanding that the health care providers take steps to reduce and eliminate unnecessary costs. Is Blue Cross doing anything to induce providers to convert to computerized patient records? What about streamlining and standardizing claim forms so doctors offices and hospitals aren’t having to staff multiple people to file forms and handle resubmissions? Is the state of Iowa demanding that the insurance companies make it simpler for the providers by insisting on uniformity in forms and coding? There is a lot that can be done to reduce costs for everyone in the system. Ultimately it is the consumer like us who ends up paying for all the inefficiencies along the way and getting stuck with poor insurance coverage at every increasing premium prices.

    We are in the age related high risk pool. Why does the insurance company have these multiple pools at all. Isn’t the whole idea of insurance ONE big pool in which the risk is spread. By creating smaller pools, certain groups are paying a much higher price, in this case I’m certain it is an age related group. Isn’t that age discrimination?

    I urge you to DENY this price increase. Look at the Blue Cross Blue Shield profits for the last 3 years and tell me why they have been able to pass on multiple premium increases while the rest of the country has been pulling out of a recession and suffering huge wage decreases or wage stagnation.

    Thank you for listening, please protect the policy holders and say NO.MS

  197. Shirley Gieselman Says:

    Dear Sir, It’s that time a year for rate increase’s. I wrote a letter last year but I’m sure what I say doesn’t
    really make any difference. But I feel the 12 % is way out of line I don’t think I well be getting a 12%
    raise!!!!!!! I understand there always increase’s each year but I don’t feel I should pay for ALL the people that get there Health FREE. I don’t get anything FREE. And with the new Healthcare plan wants that going to do with my premiums ? I think the premiums on this insurance is getting out of hand!!! I think I’m going to have to check around if it goes up much more I would be able to afford it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MS

  198. David Wiersbe Says:

    I am writing in response to your letter sent to customers of BCBS of Iowa regarding a base premium rate increase. I cannot attend the public meeting Jan 5th. I am against the increase, this increase would mean that Wellmark has increased rates by 40% + over the past four years. My wife and I have been insured through Welmark since 1999, My monthly premium has increased from $800.00 four years ago, to $1,179.40 for this year. I currently pay for my own health insurance which now takes 1/3rd of my monthly check.
    Welmark placed us in a Pool 4 some years ago, and won’t allow us to move out of it. Nor will they permit us to increase our deductible to lower the premiums. We have pre-existing conditions, so applying for other health insurance is out of the question. As I see it, Wellmark has us trapped, when they increase rates, I have no option but to pay higher rate. If you are going to permit them to raise the base premium rate, then require them to open up Pools and require them to allow a higher deductable to contain premium costs. MS

  199. Kathy Says:

    Our premiums have gone up considerably in the last 4 years and we WILL be looking for other coverage!!

  200. Sharon Sarazin Says:

    I’m self employeed last year had to raise my deductable to afford your increase. Now another big jump in premiums already pay $405.00 a month. also got letters saying what they stopped covering next year. Vote NO to rate increaseMS

  201. Bev nichols Says:

    Once again significant premium increases. This CAN NOT continue, it isn’t sustainable for so many of us. Please find a way for people to be able to afford to keep the insurance they currently have. Both sides of this issue need to figure out a way to work together or we will have many, many more uninsured in the state of Iowa.
    MS

  202. Rodney Roland Says:

    My wife and I are on fixed incomes (social security) We will see an increase in SS payments of 1.7%. The increase proposed by Wellmark will totally wipe out the increase we receive. Increases in cost of living for food, gas, and utilities will further erode our ability to live on our SS income. We are not currently eligible for Medicare, therefore we provide our own health insurance. During the past 3 years, our premiums have increased approximately 30%. Please reject Wellmark’s request to increase premiums. Thank you.
    MS

  203. Michelle Ellerhoff Says:

    I am writing this letter to ask that you please do not allow Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Iowa to increase the base rate 13.3%. There are many families in Iowa struggling right now including ours. Wellmark has increased our premiums significantly in my opinion the last three years and we are a family who has small children but only go to our home health care provider on average 3 times a year. We maintain good health insurance, which Wellmark offers, and are very satisfied with the company, so that if anything significant happens with our children or ourselves that we are covered. At the same time, our family cannot continue to have these high increases in premium every year. Please consider looking very carefully into this increase and make sure it is truly necessary. There are so many Iowa families struggling to stay in the green financially it will be hard to budget for the increase.MS

  204. Margaret Harris Says:

    I just recently bought my Wellmark policy and before I have even paid my first premium I have received this notice of a rate increase. This is very disturbing as I have not even yet had a claim.

    I would like to discuss a program called the Physician Quality Reporting Incentive program which is supported by funding from Wellmark. In this program certain guidelines such as hypertension, diabetes control, and immunizations are reported to Wellmark through electronic medical records. I am specifically referring to a program that I am familiar with through Iowa Health Systems. With information received from electronic medical records Wellmark is able to track many areas of healthcare. For instance, if a child is missing an immunization this information is pointed out on a report to that physician and that physician’s staff then notifies the parent or patient that an immunization is due. If a patient has a diagnosis of hypertension then Wellmark tracks that patient’s blood pressure and makes sure it is in a compliance range. And what is in it for the physicians, management and staff? The physicians are rewarded with a large incentive payment. Management also gets a portion of this reward. The staff in turn gets a small portion. All this money is spent for a physician to do the job that he was paid to do even before such incentives were in the picture.

    Let us look at the usefulness of this program in regards to immunizations. If a child comes in for his one year check up or any well child visit, his physician should be checking to make sure that child is up to date on all immunizations. If a child is in daycare an immunization card is required and that is another way to double check if all immunizations are current. When a child enters the school system their immunizations are once again checked to make sure everything is in order. Do we really need Wellmark to be paying an incentive to meet this guideline?

    Wellmark is taking my premium, that of a middle class worker and paying a physician to make sure I stay in certain guidelines. This is something I would hope my physician would have the integrity and commitment to do without Wellmark’s incentive. Eliminating this payment to physicians, management and staff should not affect patient care and would go far in making such a premium increase unnecessary.MS

  205. Dennis Hullinger Says:

    I am writing to implore the Iowa Insurance Commissioner to disallow the proposed base rate increase of 12.2% to Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. This sort of ridiculous rate increase of over six times the rate of core inflation is outrageous! The average Iowans salary certainly has not risen to this level to cover this sort of an increase!
    Wellmark , in its notification, also indicated that it would pursue other avenues to accomplish their rate increase by use of their so-called individual rating process. Basically notifying us that our rates will go up due to our age (50-55 yrs.) whether they get a base rate increase or not. This to me means that a denial of a base rate increase is totally appropriate since they are indicating they will pursue another avenue to accomplish this goal.
    I would ask that the Iowa Insurance Commissioner keep this in mind as he makes his decision on this request. Working people are struggling enough right now without huge increases in expenses like this. MS

  206. Douglas Seible Says:

    We are already paying $720. month now you want 13.3% more. Our COLA only raised 1.7% you should be closer to that figure. we know medical expenses are going up but so is everything else. Vote NO to that high of rate increase. MS

  207. Mary Simon Says:

    Vote NO to rate increase AGAIN.. Insurance companies are not covering pre existing conditions already. Commissioner nees to do something for the people of Iowa NOT the Insurance company AGAIN. MS

  208. Terry Says:

    Wellmarks request for a 12% increase is almost ludicrous. During the past three years my premium increases have averaged over 10% annually. Now they want another 12% from individual policy holders. Are the employer contracts rising by 12%? If the cost of healthcare has really risen that much, why are individual policy holders carrying the brunt of the costs? Shouldn’t the company provided health insurance be rising as rapidly? If healthcare costs are not rising that rapidly, what rationale could possibly explain such exorbitant increases? Last year the bulk of the increase went to dividends and retained earnings – not pay outs for increased billing costs to the providers of healthcare. Hospital charges, doctors billings and pharmaceutical costs have not risen at near the explosive rate of Wellmark’s premiums.

    My last prescription drug was billed at $39. Insurance paid $8, I paid $5, and the balance of $26 was listed as “plan savings”. Is Wellmark asking for a rate increase based upon the $39 billing charge or the $8 it actually paid? Either way, both are the same as in 2010. The doctor who wrote the prescription charged the same as in 2010. I see no evidence that healthcare costs have risen to the magnitude of 12% in one year, let alone the 30% of the previous three years.

    If the 12% is approved, Wellmark (and the Iowa insurance regulatory system) will have achieved a 50% increase in individual policy holder’s premiums in 4 years.

    To summarize –

    this rate increase reflects 50% increase in individual premiums over 4 years

    my personal experience shows no increase in doctor or prescription drug costs over last three years

    employer provided plans are not being effected with double digit increases

    bulk of last years premium increase had nothing to do with illnesses

    To allow another preposterous increase of this magnitude is totally irresponsible.

  209. Theresa Fsast Says:

    My husband just turned 60 and I am not 60 yet, so we have quite a bit of time before Medicare. We already pay more than 12000/year. We have adjusted and we have taken a bigger adjustment and it just keeps going up. They are making it so that we cannot afford insurance. I do not feel it needs to be raised this often. They need to find the expense a different way.

  210. Virginia Gieseke Says:

    my husband and I are included in the targeted group of individuals under 65yrs who purchase their own insurance. We are very concerned, and not in favor of, the proposed increase in base premium rates. We are self-employed, and pay for our own health insurance. Each year our premiums increase, whether we have used the coverage or not. We have selected the highest amount of deductible, in order to make the premiums affordable. Therefore, we do not reach the annual deductible amount, but we have insurance in case of something catastrophic happens. These annual rate increases are a hardship for people like us, in the middle class, working for ourselves. Why is this segment carrying the load alone regarding this increase? Why aren’t the employer plans affected by the same reasons given for the rate increase? medical services @ 10.33%, administrative expenses and taxes @ 1.44%, operating margin @.43%. Or, are these reasons accurate? Why are medical services increasing by 10.33%? Same for adm expenses and operating margin? Are Wellmark and the medical industry doing all they can to keep these costs as low as possible?
    I’ve been crunching the numbers, and it is looking as if we’d be better off not buying insurance, but instead putting the premium amount away in a savings or investiment plan, and gambling that something doesn’t happen. If I’m thinking that, I be others in our category are also.
    Thank you

  211. Todd Hicklin Says:

    I believe this prospective rate increase is not justified. I started my policy in February 2011, Two weeks later, I received a notice of a rate hike. There wasn’t any reason given just that I had no choice. I felt like i had been taken. If I suddenly increased my rates, my corporate clients wouldn’t stand for it. It is as if Wellmark and other health insurance companies are dictators unto themselves. I know the problem is caused by many factors. I could make a lot of comments about how the inflation rate doesn’t currently justify Wellmarks request. Deny this and future requests for increases for the next 24 months. At least wait until the unemployment rate is less than 4% where it should be if Obama hadn’t spent and wasted trillions of dollars. There are too many unemployed people right not to be able to afford another increase. I know it’s going to be a struggle for me. my clients are losing money and laying off workers. No doubt I will soon be among them. But i truly suspect you will go ahead and rubber-stamp the increase. I wonder how many Wellmark parties, receptions and gifts the members of your organization have received to get you in their corner and get what they want. it makes me sick. MS

  212. Gail Lawlor Says:

    I am writing with regard to the 12.2% base rate increase proposed by Wellmark Of Iowa.
    Last year at this time, I received a similar notice. I mailed my comments to your office. Some months later, I received a letter from Wellmark that my insurance premium was being raised by another $50.00 dollars per month. I subsequently increased my decuctible to offset the increase. My deductible is now $5,500, which is about as high as I am comfortable with. Should this rate increase be approved, I’m sure I will be receiving another letter from Wellmark regarding the increase in my premium payment.
    I don’t know how people are supposed to afford health care with the rate of these increases. My salary certainly isn’t going up 12.2% each year. So, I am writing in protest of the proposed increase.
    MS

  213. Diane Eggar Says:

    BCBS wants another rate increase. Seriously? Do their executives not make enough millions a year? Why don’t they try reducing bonuses and salaries to offset some of their expenses instead of always asking the consumer to pick up the tab? People who are lucky to have jobs certainly haven’t seen their wages go up the same percentages that BCBS has been requesting over the past 2 yrs. Where will it end?

    Obviously, I am against it. I buy my insurance directly from BCBS and have seen my rates go up every year. I see the doc maybe twice a year. My insurance will cover mammagrams but only if done in the same office as my doctor. How many doctor’s offices offer mammagrams on site? Ridiculous!

    Please require this insurance company to live within their means the same as the rest of us. Enough is enough.

  214. Janette Schulz Says:

    I believe as a nurse practitioner, single mother, and payer of my daughters’ insurance, that the proposed increase in premiums is excessive. While there are many uncertainties facing insurance companies in the wake of ObamaCare, increasing above cost to hedge your concerns is neither ethical nor necessary. I work for a large healthcare system that is self-insured, and their rates are only going up 5% despite their concerns. We have rarely used our insurance to date, thank God, but the premiums have gone up tremendously since I took out this policy upon the adoption of my girls, who are now 8 and 10. I can assure you, my salary has not gone up anywhere near that much in the interim. Please reconsider and give those who actually pay our bills a break, or we may have to pull out and go on the government plan as well. As I single mother, I would be ahead to quit my job and go on welfare–and get free healthcare. MS

  215. Kyle Frink Says:

    Wellmark Blue Cross health insurance proposed premium rate increase (13.3%) for 2013. That’s a total of 49.15% in increases since 2010. That’s unjustifiable. Please stop them from trying to break the average Joe that is self insured. MS

  216. Reid Redenius Says:

    I wholeheartedly disagree with the proposed rate increases. I believe the rates are high enough the way they are.

    49.15% total rate increase since 2010 is UNJUSTIFIABLE and OUTRAGEOUS. It’s nowhere close to keeping pace with the rate of cost increases.

    Please don’t allow these proposed increases to take effect. MS

  217. Jay Stolba Says:

    you are taking advantage of your Clients. Very Greedy to ask for such high rate increases 12.2% Sham. MS

  218. Don Liddell Says:

    we are already paying $630.85 month and only have one income coming in. this increase is ridiculous.. you are going to make it so no one will be able to afford health insurance and we will just have to go without. We never use our insurance so we should be rewarded instead of raising our rates. NO increase..MS

  219. Lee Grubb Says:

    I am writing this emai in dismay as to the increase of rates for Wellmark. Even though they may be a not profit company we all know that the funds can be dispersed to to low profit. I as an older male see no reason for sharing costs of pregnancies as well as other disorders.
    I feel that Wellmark has a widespread of employees that are not necessary to carry
    the needs of an insurance company.
    Wellmark is like others who just jump on the bandwagon giving pay increases in times when others are suffering and not expecting pay increases.
    Thanks for reading my short email.
    I DO FEEL A HANDLE NEEDS TO BE PUT ON ALL INCREASES.
    MS

  220. Diane Findlay Says:

    I’m writing in response to Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa’s intent to raise premium rates AGAIN, and by a substantial 12.2%. My comments will be brief. My husband is semi-retired. I work, but in the field of education, and I am far from wealthy. We enrolled in a private Wellmark BC/BS policy about a year ago, because the post-COBRA rates for continuing the policy from my husband’s former employer were ridiculously high. We simply could not afford it. The policy we now have started out much better, though we have high deductibles and much greater overall personal cost than with the old policy. But in the year (approximately) that we’ve had the policy, this would be the THIRD rate increase! How long before this, too, is simply out of reach, despite the reduced coverage?

    Health care costs, in general, are completely out of control in this country, and health insurance providers are a big part of that picture. I think this new and large increase is unreasonable and, really, unconscionable. I urge you to find better ways to address the greater problems in our health care system than to simply load policy-holders up with increasingly burdensome premiums! MS

  221. Wanda Jensen Says:

    I’m a small business owner and pay for my own insurance which amounts to $725.20 a month. I know medical is expensive. i went through cancer treatments this year and it was comforting to know I had insurance. I had to have injections to boost my immune system. the first two were $4,261.00 the third was $4,304.17 and the last one was $10,401.67. As a small business if I raised my prices 150% within a month I would not have any business. I’m not sure what the answer is but something has to be done. I vote NO to rate increase

  222. Joyce Busenbark Says:

    We have already lowered our premiums which means less coverage so I could afford it the last time. We the people need a break. our paychecks do not go up and down with everything. its hard to budget when there is no extra budget. the cold is coming higher heat bills, our property taxes just went up, gas prices higher for a long time and how i hear the food prices are going up again. We have had to turn to using our credit card inbetween pay checks and now health insurance again.. what happened to low cost affordable health care? do you know what it costs? I get paid 2 times a month and half of my check goes to health care. sad thing is my family uses it 3-4 times a year because I can’t afford the co-pays. I try to home remedy my children and I don’t see a doctor like I should, all low to middle class people are hurting right now.we just can’ afford to pay extra on anything . You need to focus on why such costs from doctors and hospitals it’s crazy what they charge and then we end up paying in premiums. You should make the ones that use it all the time pay more. MS

  223. Marla Says:

    My family has a policy with Wellmark. “We are both self employed small business owners with one child still on our policy. In order for us to be semi-able financially to pay for our insurance premium on a monthly basis, we have the highest deductible available, $10,000. With a family of 3, that comes to $30,000 per year we would pay IF we had to use our insurance. Fortunately we are in good health and rarely use our insurance.
    I do need a colonoscopy done, which I have been putting off for 3 years as I didn’t have the means to pay for the procedure. Because with such a high deductible, we will PAY for ALL of the procedure. I have the procedure scheduled for January of 2013 as I can NOT put it off any longer (even though I do NOT have the funds to pay for it I will go on a monthly billing cycle and take up to 4 or more years to pay).
    Now with a possible rate increase, I will look into going on Welfare. I CANNOT pay any higher premium per month and I can NOT go any higher on a deductible in order to lower my monthly premium. Or I may just drop all medical insurance and go to the emergency room ONLY when necessary—————NO hospital can deny me treatment and if I can’t pay they still can NOT deny me treatment.
    Neither of the above mentioned options are ones I ever thought I would persue and consider for my family. BUT due to others who are taking advantage of these 2 options, and others that go to the hospital and/or ER everytime they have a slight cold etc, I HAVE TO PAY for their taking advantage of the sytem. Again, the minority of us that use the medical insurance wisely and financially beneficially, WE are getting penalized for those that don’t!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe the “USERS” have the right idea.
    I am only one member of Wellmark. And I am speaking for myself and my family. I will look into how Welfare could help my family if a rate increase goes into effect. We as a family have been members for 38 years and never switched as we liked our insurance. True we had to adjust our deductible amount in order to pay the monthly premium when other increases have occured. We did not like the increases, but we were able to keep our monthly amount down. We CANNOT do that any more.
    Since this is on public record, I am withholding my name. You have my email address if you wish to respond to my concerns.

  224. Michael Collins Says:

    The following are comments I wish to enter into the public record regarding the proposed premium rate increase by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa:

    First, some factual history regarding Wellmark premium increases:
    1) For the period 4/2006 – 4/2009, the average annual premium increase = 7.73%.
    2) The new healthcare law (Obamacare) was passed by Congress and signed by the president in March, 2010.
    3) For the period 4/2009 – 4/2013, the average annual premium increase = 14.55%. This average includes the the proposed increase of 12.2% effective 4/2013.
    4) The cumulative increase in premiums, including the proposed 4/2013 increase, since the passing of Obamacare will amount to 71.7% in four years.
    Second, balance sheet reserves reported by Wellmark stood at $1,195,908,000 as of 12/31/2011. This is an increase of over $200,000,000 since 12/31/2008, or +30.6% in three years.
    Third, per literature published by Wellmark, the reasons behind these large premium increases are always because of patient utilization and provider payments for services. There is never any responsibility borne by Wellmark.
    Finally, there appears to be more premium increases coming as Wellmark races to the full implementation date of Obamacare in 2014. In my opinion, the proposed premium increase of 12.2% is excessive and needs to be reduced to 7%-8% by the Iowa Insurance Commissioner. Policyholders cannot be expected to continually absorb double digit premium increases just because Wellmark can – at least until the full effects of Obamacare arrive in 2014.

    • kevin watts Says:

      Implementation of Obamacare will raise your rates even further. You will pay for those that are required to have insurance. There is no provision for premium controls.

  225. Sam Partridge Says:

    Don’t feel rate increase needs to go up any more. Vote NO to rate increase

  226. Cindy Moser Says:

    If this increase is allowed, it will mean an increase of 40% in the last three years. They are pricing the middle class right out of insurance.

    When the rates were increased in 2011, I had to double our deductible from $1500 per person to $3000 per person just to be able to afford to pay the premiums. I pay for my insurance myself, my employer does not offer health insurance. Prior to this year, we really didn’t use it that much other than preventive and dental.

    This year, my husband, who is self-employed, fell off a ladder and broke his pelvis and heel, both very significant injuries. His hospital bills were well over $200,000.00. Thank goodness we did have insurance! Without it we would be filing bankruptcy.

    I pay approximately $6000.00 per year for insurance now on a gross salary of $35,000.00. Between paying for insurance and out of pocket per our policy ($4500.00), that amounts to almost one-third of my salary. My husband has not been able to work for the last six months due to his injuries and probably faces another surgery.

    I know I am not the only person in this situation; there are many people out there that are trying to do the right thing by having health insurance and paying their medical bills. But it gets harder and harder with the continued increase in health insurance premiums. Please do not allow this increase to do through.

  227. Christie Williams Says:

    I’m divorced and only has one income o work with Wellmark is already charging me $299.00 she will not be able to afford to carry on with Health Insurance and would need to increase her premium it is already a higher deductable she is on right now. Her job with walmart will be less hours in the future they are cutting back her hours in the bakery and she fells that something needs to be done to discourage this increase from happening. MS

  228. Gary Dasch Says:

    I believe a 10% rate increase should not be allowed. I find it interesting that even though they state it is for medical costs, it comes shortly after the federal law mandates more of there income be directed for medical costs, not administration costs. We began our private coverage July 1 of 2011. This policy cost $694.75 when we signed up in July, 2011 and as of January of this year it increased to $768.15 with no claims filed during that period. This is with a $3,400 deductible. That was over a 10% increase then and now they want to raise it another 10%? I think that is unacceptable. Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t they making a profit now, without the increase? Thank you for allowing my input, even though I believe it will do little good. Is there any consumer that would agree with this rate increase?

  229. kristie koster Says:

    We are requesting that the premium rate not be increased. We are a family of 3 and are finding it difficult paying the prremiums as they are. I receive a 3% increase a year . 13% is out of line. We need to change other things like putting a cap on malpractice, make Dr….. pay for own schooling like the rest of us, only do testing which has to be done, tough decisions have to be made as far as care for old people, do they need or even want all those meds. while long term in nursing care??????
    We can not keep paying these increase in premiums.

  230. H Lucas Says:

    Why does Wellmark feel they need another premium raise for policyholders. My wife is a daycare provider paying for her own insurance. She cannot afford another 10%+ premium boost when Wellmark got one last year as well. That is over a 20+% increase and getting minimal insurance coverage for that size of premium.

  231. Russell Brandau Says:

    Vote No on rate increase. had increase last year with no better benefits. asking for way too much our cost of living is at 3% would be more reasonable that 13%. In my business if I charge customer every year I had a loss I wouldn’t have any customers. Not practical and un justified.

  232. kevin watts Says:

    Affordable Healthcare Act ? If the rate increases are allowed, once again, I am going to drop my healthcare and join the ranks of the uninsured. This is ridiculous. Wellmark has been gearing up to see if the healthcare act was to be law, and now that it is certain, those that have health insurance will pay to provide insurance for those that don’t have it. Despite what some assumed, this is not “free” healthcare, it is unaffordable healthcare. The spiral downward has begun folks.
    And furthermore, the Obamacare has no way to regulate cost of insurance, simply to require you have it, whether it is affordable or not.
    What is up with the funny math used to calculate increase.? I want each policy holder to be told EXACTLY what percent their individual policy will increase. The notice is vague and misleading and not accurate.

  233. Richard Waack Says:

    Reviewing the letter sent to policyholders “Notice Of Proposed Premium Rate
    Increase and Public Hearing”.
    They make mention of increasing the base rate then the next paragraph they say
    because of higher cost in my rating class. To me base rate is across the board
    “all classes”. I am confused?? Then again that is the way health insurance
    co’s have learned to operate, keep the consumer confused and then they can
    pretty much write there own ticket.
    Health Insurance Providers need to be regulated across the board. Wellmark and
    others have gotten away from the true concept of insurance. The spreading of
    risk over a large number to lesson the risk for all. Just look at the rate
    structure used by Wellmark and tell me this is not a true statement. There is
    to much individual underwriting/rating going on. I pay 648.00 a month to
    Wellmark, I am 62 years old. This rate increase will put me over 700.00 that
    is almost $9,000 a year, give me a break!!!!! Wellmark has so many plans and
    rating groups I don’t see how they can provide honest information to your
    office for rating purposes.
    It is what it is. We have the most unfair health system in the world. It has
    become a system of the HAVE’S AND THOSE WHO CANNOT AFFORD IT”. Then we HAVES
    have to pay the bill’s for those who can’t or wont.
    One other point. Why do not for profit providers such as hospitals have to
    have multi-million dollar landscape projects, solid oak interior doors etc.??
    Medical clinic on every cornor, it is like the gas station fad of the 50’s and 60’s.MS

  234. Tim Moore Says:

    Does Wellmark really need to ask for a rate increase every
    year? Most of the people they
    insure probably don’t get a pay increase every year. Maybe its time
    Wellmark cuts back on building
    and administrative costs. I know that i have to cut back as well as
    everybody else sometimes.
    I’m just getting really tired of getting one of these letters every
    year. I’m 42, selfemployed and
    afraid at this rate by the time i’m 60 there won’t be any way to pay for health insurance. MS

  235. Vicki Koehler Says:

    I wish to convey my extreme displeasure and concern at the CONTINUED double digit increases in my premiums to Wellmark. When I retired four years ago, my IPERS retirement monthly check was $450. My Wellmark premium was about $300 monthly. Wellmark has increased every year since. My new statement states the proposed premuim will be $722.62 monthly. I paid $7539.00 for the year 2012. At the proposed rate, this will increase to $8671.44. This figures to be a 240.87% increase in five years. In March of 2013 I will be drawing my first Social Security check of $1004. After paying my premiums to Wellmark that leaves me with $731.38 to live on. What really scares me is that I still have three years until I can qualify for medicare. At the current rate of 12% increases I will run out of money before I turn 65. As a retired school teacher, I planned on my IPERS and my Social Security to retire on, not to pay insurance premiums. This needs to stop. Please help me and the many others who are in the same sinking life boat. MS

  236. CindyAdams Says:

    Qualified for Wellmark 2009, rate increase every year now another 12.2%. Ia Health care system is causing these insurance’s to raise rates. Out price the normal person. When I had no insurance the office would just charge $18.00 per visit. now my copay is much more than that. Work in a dental office the charges are way TOO high because insurance will pay it. should look at individuals not lumb into catagories. Require annual physical. Vote NO. MS

  237. Doug McCarthy Says:

    Wellmark has been taking double-digit rate increases for numerous years in a row already. Wellmark should be working within the industry to get their costs under control. It seems to me that the consumers (Wellmark’s Customers) are bearing the majority of the expense and getting far less benefit than ever before. Wellmark covers half the items that they use to. They have excluded so many more items in their packages. They are asking for more premiums and are providing much less coverage.

    On the doorstep of Obama’s healthcare program, an increase in premiums would guarantee far more Americans without coverage. Who can afford $500 or more per month per individual for coverage? Never mind the additional copays and extra deductibles.

    Wellmark needs to learn how to cut expenses and live within their budget the same as all the rest of the middle class has been forced to do. The average human being can’t go to his boss and ask for a 13% pay increase just so he can make ends meat. Wellmark needs to cut some of the top dogs’ salaries, live within their budget, and leave the premiums alone. Times are tough. They are tough for everybody. MS

  238. Eloise Raymond Says:

    I want to have my voice heard in deciding about the base premium rate increase by Wellmark.

    I am 61 years old and in good health. Both my husband and I pay our own premiums as our employers do not pay for this. Neither of us have a reason to see a medical doctor except for our annual physical and tests associated with that or prevention tests. We do to take any medication. We have not needed to see a doctor during the year except for an occasional chiropractor. Yet our rates seem to go up because of our age. We are healthier than many 25 year olds! We shouldn’t be penalized because of our age. Would you consider giving a payback either in a reduction of insurance or in real dollars for those that are healthy? Or a higher premium for those that use their health insurance? It Would be something like car insurance and would be an incentive for others.

    We want to have health insurance just in case something were to happen but the cost keeps increasing and our salaries are the same. Now, we will have to pay more money into the payroll taxes so our paycheck will be even smaller than it was.

    Please consider this as a request not to increase the base premium rate for Wellmark.MS

  239. Barbara A Johnson Says:

    I personally need a break from price increases, especially in health insurance coverage. Prices go up in everything but not in wages. I just got a temp job in September 2012 after getting married and moved the end of July 2012. I am 57, went back to college for an associate degree with hopes to get a better job. Instead it has been tough, and I had to get health insurance. Increases just make it less affordable and more difficult for my husband and I to make life changes in our mid to late fifties. MS

  240. Shirley Peiffer Says:

    Am in receipt of your “Notice of Hearing” regarding the rate increase from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

    I don’t mind paying my own way, but this is spiraling out of control. In the last 6 years I have made 2 claims on my health care insurance and those were only office visits for bad colds and congestion.

    They ought to reward individuals who don’t make claims on their policies at the drop of a hat and not keep asking them to pay for those who do…

    In June of 2009 the company I worked for closed and I went on Cobra for 18 months. The following is a time line showing my health care premiums.

    June of 2010 until Sept of 2011 351.23

    Sept of 2011 until Dec of 2012 480.48 Group Plan Insurance Co Change

    Jan of 2012 until April of 2012 464.95 Off Cobra to BCBS

    April of 2012 until Present 508.95 BCBS

    That has been an increase of $157.72 a month in a little over 2 years and now they want to increase the premium by another $42.60 per month which would bring my monthly premium to $551.55 for a total increase of $200.32 a month in 3 years. MS

  241. pmearley Says:

    To Whom it may Concern,
    I am emailing my concerns that the rate for my daughters insurance is going to increase once again. It was increased by $35.oo a month last April and in order to be able to continue with her coverage I had to increase her deductable to $2500 a year. She had tests during the year which added up to her e
    MS

  242. Patty Hageman Says:

    know it is my option where I live and what I do for a living, but not everyone can have a high paying job and have their insurance paid for. BC/BS needs to think of its policyholders instead of their CEO’s. Do their employees get a 12% raise or 20% raise when the company raises its premiums? I’m sure not, but I bet the higher up people get that kind of a raise plus.

    We leave in a small community and farm. Farmers do not get to put the price on their cattle or milk, so we can make a profit. We have to take what is being offered to us. If we could hold out for higher prices, we would, but it doesn’t work that way in farming. When an animal is ready to go to market, it has to go. We can’t wait for a month and hope we can get more. There are a lot of times that we lose hundreds of dollars on one head of cattle. Farmers that milk are in the same situation, they can’t hold on to their milk until the price gets better. When it is time to sell, they have to sell. Think about that.

    Please do not let raise BC/BS raise their rates 12%. Last year was a big enough hit on us and we don’t need to have that again.

    I would like to know what BC/BS made last year. I would expect that you would check into that before making your decision. I would like a response to this e-mail on that matter so that I know you got my e-mail and are considering their profit before making a decision. I know you probably are getting a lot of e-mails, but you are here to protect our interests and every e-mail, phone call and comment should be considered. You asked for opinions, so here’s mine. Please consider it and don’t just glance over it. MS

  243. janice morris Says:

    i will be unable to attend the public hearing due to health reasons.
    I would wish that my monthly premium rates wouldn’t increase.
    This would be a hardship on my family.MS

  244. Elizabeth Lee Says:

    After recieving my Notice of proposed base rate increase I wanted to submit this letter as my public comment to the Ia Insurance Commission. I have carried Wellmark insurance for over three decades. as a self employed couple, my husband and I have purchased out coverage through Farm Bureau. I was particularly upset with this last notice of increase, since just recently our policy co-pays were also raised, both in primary care physicians and then higher yet for seeing specialists.Wellmark is apparently able to change these amouts without going to the Insurance Division. Perhaps this is to discourage policyholders from seeking medical care but it also does save Wellmark money on each visit.I feel the request for a 13.3% increase on base premium rates is excessive and that those of us who purchase individual polices are being unfairly targeted by Wellmark. I would urge the IA Insurance Division to deny the request increase and come to a more sensible increase amount. I appreciate knowing that the Commission will review the request throughly and will look forward to reading your reports. MS

  245. Ruth Chancellor Says:

    as a retiree, I am extremely concerned about my continuous increase in health premiums that greatly exceed the Cost of Living Index. Over the last three years my premiums have increased by 17.6% in 2010, 11.6% in 2011, and 18.9% in 2012. This accumulative effect is about 50% increase in three years, which gives me a current premium of $630.00 per month. Now, theya re asking for another base premium increase of 13.3%, which would bring my premium up to $700.00 per month. At this rate it is an extreme hardship for me. I am 60 yrs old and can’t afford these types of increases. MS

  246. Linda Chapman Says:

    I’m writing in response to the proposed 13.3% increase on my BCBS insurance policy I have with Farm Bureau. When I purchased this policy in 2010 my premium was $358.20 and I was sold on the fact that being with a large group kept by premiums down. by 2012 they had increased to $476.90 and they want to raise it $79.63mo to &556.53 per month just for me. and why is it from April to December?MS

  247. Josie Says:

    I’m a single female who purchased her own insurance policy over a year ago. I since lowered my coverage to the Silver plan with a non-super-high deductible. I am now either going to have to raise my deductible to the point where I’ll be paying a LOT of money out of pocket if I had some calamity happen. I am currently paying $265.55 for insurance; I cannot afford to pay over 300+ for insurance on my income. I cannot afford to have a child; and if I had a child, it would currently only be covered if I had complications.
    I think it is bogus. I work darn hard for my money, to put a roof over my head, and to be a responsible adult. I’m rarely ever sick, and this year I only went to the doctor for my yearly physical and had to go to the urgent care clinic for a UTI.
    I honestly only can afford the insurance I have thanks to my work HRA. Otherwise, I would definitely be looking elsewhere. By the time the next year is said and done, I very well might have different insurance.

  248. Ruth Chancellor Says:

    As a retiree, I am extremely concerned about my continuous increase in health premiums that greatly exceed the cost of living index. Over the last three years my premiums have increased 17.6% in 2010, 11.6% in 2011, and 18.9% in 2012. This accumulative effect is about 50% in three years, which gives ma a current premium of $630.00 mo. Now Wellmark is asking for another 13.3% which brings my premium to over $700.00mo. At this rate it is extreme hardship for me. I am 60 yrs old and cannot afford these types of increases. MS

  249. Daniel Rogers Says:

    Wellmark is proposing and increase of its base premium rates by 12.2%. In my opion this is unreasonable as it is in far excess of the present inflation rate. My own wages increased by only 2% in 2012. The federal government only gave a 1.7% increase in Social Security benefits in december 2012. at the present time the inflation rate is considered to be about 2 % according to most sources. Wellmark is unjustified in asking for such and increase especially as it is considered a NON PROFIT corporation. If operating expenses are getting tight they should seriously consider cost cutting measures that individuals and businesses must do at times of an economic necessity. I urge the commissioner of insurance to deny Wellmark their request for 12.2% and also deny any rate increase in excess of the officially accepted inflation rate. I also urge you to look very carefully at Wellmarks operating expenses, salaries paid, and for the commissioner to review their non-profit status in light of such. MS

  250. Linda Saathoff Says:

    I am a retired county employee and i was told that when I retired to go out and try to find my own insurance because Cobra that would be offered to me for a while was way too expensive, so I did. I work three jobs plus my retirement so that I can pay for my insurance and other expenses. I even took a higher deductible and I had to use it once and it took me a year to get the hospital paid off. Good thing I have three jobs but what if I didn’t? I would still be paying the hospital and then having them call to say could I pay more? I am single and don’t go to the doctor very much unless I am in so much pain then they tell me I should have come in sooner. I try to keep up on my yearly exams and am not on much medicine. I know even though I don’t use the doctor very much I am still in the coop and pay for someone who does, but hopefully when I do need it will be there. You can’t afford to be without insurance but you can’t afford to be without it either. When I go to this other meeting I heard the plight that I somewhat have. I am not sure how people on SS can make it. Something has to give gas is up, groceries have sky rocketed, keep the heat at cooler temp just to lower fuel costs. I am tired of working to make ends meet. PLEASE RECONSIDER THIS INCREASE. MS

  251. Kristine Vaske Says:

    Hello to whom this may concern: I am single and live in an apartment, I have a car and school loans that I am trying to pay off as well. I am barely getting by with my bills and my health insurance, I am writing to you and as a vote to not increase the insurance premium this year. If you want to punish the people who smoke go ahead but not the people who work six days a week to pay their bills and have a place to live like me. I hope you put this in to consideration and do not raise our rates. Another thing is with the fiscal cliff going on and we know that will get raised as well. and that making it hard to survive I am asking you please do not raise our health premium they got raised last year too.MS

  252. Lisa and Tom Slattery Says:

    We urge you to deny Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa’s proposed base premium rate increase.

    Our healthy family of four (ages 47, 46, 14, 12) are covered under Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. We are very much opposed to a base premium rate increase. We currently hold an individual policy purchased through Farm Bureau. We have an individual policy because we are small business owners and cannot afford to offer health insurance benefits to our employees and ourselves. In fact, just this past July 2012 we switched our plan to the highest deductible available in the gold plan ($4800 per person) to lower our monthly payment, which had risen to over $1200 per month. Our current rate of $960 per month is still higher than our monthly home mortgage payment. We are a healthy family of four with no chronic health issues. We can’t afford another 13% in health care costs. We currently have two sons with orthodontics (no insurance coverage) as well as eyeglasses (no vision insurance available either). We feel our current level of out-of-pocket health care costs including monthly rates, co-pays and deductibles is already too high. So we urge you to deny Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa’s proposed base premium rate increase. MS

  253. Tina M. Major Says:

    I don’t want the increase becuase is almost 30% of my wages right now. I don’t think an increase is needed. I really don’t. I have not even had them for a whole year and this will be the second increase. If you only make 1500 a month and its going up over 400, you do the math on it. I don’t want an increase and I hope more people make their comments noted. AR

  254. Monica Lursen Says:

    Both as an individual Wellmark subscriber and a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, I strongly oppose the base rate increase proposed by Wellmark. In recent summary of benefits and coverage I have with my policy, there was absolutely no mention or reference to nutrition or the role it plays in both the prevention and treatment of almost all chronic diseases. Currently, diabetes management is the only chronic disease where medical nutrition therapy is covered service by Wellmark, yet heart disease, high blood pressure, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and obesity are but a few among many of the chronic diseases impacted by nutrition and thus play a vital role in the costs of disease management. It has been reported the for every $4 spent on health coverage $3 of that is for chronic diseases. Registered Dietitians have not been allowed to become providers in the Wellmark network, nor is there approval for their services to be covered in an effort to reduce costs for these other chronic diseases
    Our Registered Dietitian colleagues in North Carolina completed a nutrition therapy cost study and with the help of BCBS of North Carolina concluded that for every $1 spent on medical nutrition therapy $3 was saved.Registered Dietitians are allowed reimbursement for medical nutrition therapy in North Carolina.
    I would hope Iowa Insurance Division will ask Wellmark why this has not been included in their search for cost savings. In the meantime, we should not support a further increase in Wellmark premium costs. MS

  255. Connie Buss Says:

    Both as an individual Wellmark subscriber and a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, I strongly oppose the base rate increase proposed by Wellmark. In recent summary of benefits and coverage I have with my policy, there was absolutely no mention or reference to nutrition or the role it plays in both the prevention and treatment of almost all chronic diseases. Currently, diabetes management is the only chronic disease where medical nutrition therapy is covered service by Wellmark, yet heart disease, high blood pressure, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and obesity are but a few among many of the chronic diseases impacted by nutrition and thus play a vital role in the costs of disease management. It has been reported the for every $4 spent on health coverage $3 of that is for chronic diseases. Registered Dietitians have not been allowed to become providers in the Wellmark network, nor is there approval for their services to be covered in an effort to reduce costs for these other chronic diseases
    Our Registered Dietitian colleagues in North Carolina completed a nutrition therapy cost study and with the help of BCBS of North Carolina concluded that for every $1 spent on medical nutrition therapy $3 was saved.Registered Dietitians are allowed reimbursement for medical nutrition therapy in North Carolina.
    I would hope Iowa Insurance Division will ask Wellmark why this has not been included in their search for cost savings. In the meantime, we should not support a further increase in Wellmark premium costs. MS

  256. Erin Bergquest Says:

    Both as an individual Wellmark subscriber and a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, I strongly oppose the base rate increase proposed by Wellmark. In recent summary of benefits and coverage I have with my policy, there was absolutely no mention or reference to nutrition or the role it plays in both the prevention and treatment of almost all chronic diseases. Currently, diabetes management is the only chronic disease where medical nutrition therapy is covered service by Wellmark, yet heart disease, high blood pressure, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and obesity are but a few among many of the chronic diseases impacted by nutrition and thus play a vital role in the costs of disease management. It has been reported the for every $4 spent on health coverage $3 of that is for chronic diseases. Registered Dietitians have not been allowed to become providers in the Wellmark network, nor is there approval for their services to be covered in an effort to reduce costs for these other chronic diseases
    Our Registered Dietitian colleagues in North Carolina completed a nutrition therapy cost study and with the help of BCBS of North Carolina concluded that for every $1 spent on medical nutrition therapy $3 was saved.Registered Dietitians are allowed reimbursement for medical nutrition therapy in North Carolina.
    I would hope Iowa Insurance Division will ask Wellmark why this has not been included in their search for cost savings. In the meantime, we should not support a further increase in Wellmark premium costs. MS

  257. K Magnuson Says:

    We already pay $1555.00/ month for two self-employed people with no maternity coverage. The parts of our bodies that require coverage are NOT covered. We can’t switch our deductible to lower premiums because Wellmark wouldn’t cover me as a new subscriber. I am not against profits and Wellmark does cover some of the expensive meds I take, but we pay out of pocket for medical services that are not covered. We can’t afford any more increases in our insurance premiums. Administrative costs in all phases of the health care industry are out of control.

    We strongly oppose any increase to the premium base and ask that the insurance commission deny Wellmark’s request.

    You do not feel my pain.

  258. Bararba Fiori Says:

    I am the owner of an individual Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance policy. I am a 57 year old female currently paying over $2000 dollars in annual premiums with a $5400 dollar annual deductible. I have been informed that the base rate premiums are going to increase in April of 2013 by12.2%. I have never in the past 20 years filed a claim. I am in better health now at the age of 57 than I was at 27, however my premiums have tripled simply because of my age. I bicycle or walk to work daily, don’t consume alcohol nor do I smoke and yet my health insurance premiums consistently increase. I am curious as to why health insurance can’t be cost driven by the amount of claims filed or offer discounts for healthy living as compared to car insurance with vanishing deductibles and lower premiums. I feel that we should individualize the cost of a health insurance because quite honestly I feel that I am paying for those with unhealthy lifestyles instead of being rewarded.

    Prior to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, I was insured with United Health Care and paid over $3600 a year with a $5000 deductible. Before that, I was insured with Assurant Health paying over $4800 a year with a $5000 deductible. So I have shopped around for the most affordable policy. I am frustrated that I am able to start out with enrollment premiums that seem affordable, yet within the first 24 months, the premium prices are dramatically increased. I am not fortunate enough to have employer provided health insurance benefits. I am a dental hygienist employed in a rural dentist office with only 13 employees. Therefore, the Affordable Health Care Act is no benefit to me. MS

  259. Benji Nichols Says:

    I am writing to express my personal opinion that additional increases in base premium rates for Wellmark BC/BS are not a good idea. With multiple increases in immediate past years, and an unsteady economic state, these types of increases take direct hits at Iowans like myself and my family.

    My wife and I are both native NE Iowan’s who grew up in Iowa, left for a few years after college, and have returned to start our own successful small media business in 2007. Being self-employed, and self-insured has brought many an eye-opening experience for us as we manage our business and all that goes with it. We are extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish as young entrepreneurs in Iowa in the past 5 years, but have watched as our insurance rates have done nothing but increase year after year with Wellmark. We don’t deny that we are getting decent coverage, but also have sizable deductibles that still prevent us from sometimes wanting to access healthcare. With additional increases to base rates, we will be effectively forced to carry less and less insurance – or insurance with higher deductibles, and thus take less care of ourselves in fear of going bankrupt and not being able to balance our self employment incomes with expenses.

    In short, when as young adults- our monthly health insurance premium is as much as our mortgage payment, we can not see how another raise in base premium rates can be justified. Please do not allow this increase. MS

  260. Larry and Brenda Says:

    My husband and I were very disheartened to receive the notice of a proposed Base Premium rate increase. We have been financially burdened by Wellmark for the last five years for sure. I have figures that have raised or health insurance $300.00 in the last five years, and have also had to increase our deductible per person to a very high amount each year. And now they want to increase it another $79.62 a month! There has to be some way to stop this! Please listen whole heartily to all the public comments, and base your decision on the policy holders.
    My husband is self-employed and getting closer to retirement age. He will be 63 this month. But because of the high cost of our health insurance, he will be working for a very long time.
    We have been dedicated customers for over 36 years. We are just trying to make an honest living, and trying to survive this tuff economy. Raising our rates in 2013 would be catostrophic for us. There has to be another way than robbing your faithful customers. Please help us! Do not raise our rates again! It is very unsettling for us each year to get the high premium notice in the mail. How about lower or not increase our premiums, and surprise us. We will be looking hard for another health provider if this goes through. You are not giving us much choice.
    PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! DO NOT RAISE OUR PREMIUMS AGAIN THIS YEAR!
    MS

  261. Danelle Taylor Says:

    I am writing to urge the Iowa Insurance Commissioner to deny Wellmark BCBS’s request for a 13.3% increase in their base premium rates.

    I believe their rate increases have exceeded realistic cost of living needs. I am self employed and DID NOT receive a 13.3% pay increase this year. I already have a high deductible and rarely meet it, so I pay for most if not all of my medical expenses out of my pocket.

    Please hold the line on this. We appreciate all you can do to reign in the insurance companies, making them become more efficient and stop raising rates on a yearly basis.
    If the inquiry goes forward, however, I hope that everything is investigated, including profits and executive compensation. MS

  262. John C. Holveck Says:

    Dear Susan Voss,
    I am writing this to strongly urge you to oppose Wellmark’s proposed premium increase. I am a 37 year old self employed international humanitarian worker. I have served my country as a former Peace Corps Volunteer in South America and as a Peace Corps Crisis Corps Volunteer assisting victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. I now work as an independent contractor to develop health and education programs in under-developed countries across the globe. In September I injured my knee and have had to pay almost $5,000 toward my deductible in uncovered medical costs. Unfortunately because of the injury, I will be unable to have the surgery until Jan or Feb of 2013. This means that I will be paying a new $5,000 deductible and %50 of the costs beyond that up to $7,000. In short, I am already paying a significant amount of my earnings to Wellmark and I find it outrageous that a company who has a Chairman who makes $3.2 million a year would ask to raise its premiums on policy holders by 12 to 13percent. PLEASE turn down Wellmark’s request for yet another increase in premiums (and further outrageous bonuses for their executives).

  263. Diane Becker Says:

    I am writing to urge the Iowa Commission to deny Wellmark BCBS’s
    request for a 13.3% increase in their base premium rates.

    Do the self-insured really get sick more often and use more resources than those people with insurance through a corporation? Or do the self-insured simply lack the bargaining power that a corporation has?

    If a rate increase is necessary, please increase the rates for ALL of Wellmark’s policy holders.

    Thank you, D Becker

  264. Teresa Nece Says:

    I am writing to urge the Iowa Insurance Commissioner to deny Wellmark’s proposed 13% premium increase. Both as a Wellmark subscriber and a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, I strongly oppose the base rate increase proposed by Wellmark. In the summary of benefits and coverage, there is no reference to the role nutrition plays in both the prevention and treatment of most chronic diseases. Diabetes management is the only chronic disease where medical nutrition therapy is a covered service by Wellmark, yet heart disease, high blood pressure, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and obesity are among many chronic diseases impacted by nutrition. It has been reported that for every $4 spent on health coverage, $3 is for chronic diseases. Registered Dietitians have not been allowed to become providers in the Wellmark network, nor is there approval for their services to be covered in an effort to reduce health care costs for these chronic diseases

    Our Registered Dietitian colleagues in North Carolina completed a nutrition therapy cost study and with the help of BCBS of North Carolina concluded that for every $1 spent on medical nutrition therapy $3 was saved. Registered Dietitians are allowed reimbursement for medical nutrition therapy in North Carolina.

    I would hope the Iowa Insurance Division will ask Wellmark why medical nutrition therapy has not been included in their search for cost savings.

    In the meantime, we should not support a further increase in Wellmark premium costs.

  265. ronda garnett Says:

    Please deny the rate increase…And the Chairman makes 3 million dollars a year…Criminal…Seems like our rates go up to pay exorbitant salaries :(

    • Gail Bessom Klodt Says:

      3? Try 30. jl

    • Gail Bessom Klodt Says:

      Whoops……….. I remember some CEO of a large insurance company was making 30M, however, I just found this:

      http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/people.asp?privcapId=909285

      dated 1/5/13. Check out the graph of salaries on the right. Sorry, I’m having issues believing it and even so, who in the heck needs 3/4 of a million a year? Dang, we work at times 24/7, parts of the year, we are up in the middle of the night insuring calves are surviving so these CEO’s can have their filet mignon and prime rib.

      Sickens me- especially when I’m reduced to literally shopping for necessities for the best price. One year of that salary would pay off debt and then some. Good grief. Can’t imagine Mr. John D. Forsyth has EVER had to go out and get his hands dirty. jl

  266. DYANN Says:

    PLEASE DO NOT RAISE MY BC/BS. I CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY ANY MOREJUNK YOU PEOPLE CHARGE. WHEN I CHOSE BC/BS YEARS AGO, I DID BECAUSE IT WAS THE BEST DEAL.NOW TAKE IT OUT OF YOUR MED. AND CUT WAY BACK ON JOHN FORSYTH’S SALARY………NO NO NO NO NO RAISING

  267. Kris Says:

    Seriously, when is someone going to put a stop to BC/BS continually wanting to increase our premiums. My husband and I are already paying $1800 a month for our family and they want into increase another 13.3%. Just do the math on what our new premium would be. Since when is this “affordable” healthcare? The CEO who makes $3.1 million can sit in his office (which our premiums paid for) and truly say that “Insurance rates in Iowa still low.” I guess none of us would be trying to figure out what we are supposed to do with the high premiums if we were sitting there making that kind of money. Obviously he has no problem with getting up each morning and looking at himself in the mirror. Wellmark may find themselves losing a lot of customers once everyone can start doing some shopping around and then let them figure out how they can pay those type of salaries. I will attend the meeting again this year probably along with a lot of other people who will voice their concerns, but yet our concerns will be pushed aside just like they were last year and raise the premiums anyway. In the DSM Register today Laura Jackson, Wellmark’s VP, stated that she sympathizes with the customers who are outraged – I don’t believe that for one moment. How can she sympathize with any of us when she isn’t paying these high premiums and Lord knows what her salary is so I really don’t have a whole lot of faith in someone who tells me they know where I am coming from when they don’t pay the kind of money I do for the insurance. At last year’s meeting Laura stated there are annual stockholder’s meetings that insureds are able to attend because essentially we are stockholders. Don’t know about anybody else I didn’t get any notice of when that meeting was because the only mail I get from BC/BS is the premium increase notice along with what new guidelines BC/BS is implementing of what they will and will not pay for – just like the last flyer I received from them that now pretty much everything has to be “authorized.” I think this is one more increase they would like to be able to get out of everybody before people can start shopping for health insurance and not get denied because of pre-existing. Problem is there will be a lot of people who will have to drop the insurance because they cannot afford it and then we will get yet another premium notice because the number of members have decreased and they will have to make up the difference by increasing the premiums once again with the remaining members. This is just so frustrating!

  268. H Raymond Smith Jr Says:

    I am writing with regard to the proposed 13.30% base premium increase proposed by Wellmark for the rating class including my wife and I. We currently pay $1,916.60 per month for our individual Alliance Select policy, which we have had for 20 years now. This proposed increase would yield 3, 5 and 7 year increases of 50.6%, 87.22% and 116.72%, respectively. These levels of increase certainly raise management questions which I would like the honorable Commissioner to thoroughly investigate–and it may be much more than finding an independent actuary to agree as actuaries generally find solace in conservative estimates and higher reserves.

    In connection with the above, it would seem that the following, among other things, should enter into the Commisioner’s assessment:

    (1) As a mutual insurance company owned by its policyholders, Wellmark’s proposed rate increase does not need to consider shareholder returns. Accordingly, it would seem to me that past increases in capital and surplus in excess of increases in net premiums written could be better used manage future premium rate increases. With Wellmark being “more than adequately capitalized in support of its business risks” per the Best’s Rating Report on its own website, there appears to be some question that this is being done. Further, the proposed increase factor to create a further operating margin seems unreasonable in light of this.
    (2) It would seem inappropriate to approve rate increases without first assessing any level of favorable reserve development for 2012, which has been the Company’s most recent prior experience per the Best’s Rating Report on its website. Any level of reserve redundancy at year end should also be assessed for reasonableness, which has historically been relatively high in the health insurance industry to perhaps mask increases in capital and surplus in environments of double-digit premium increases.
    (3) Investment returns should also be considered to cover administrative expenses other than commissions and premium taxes, rather than it being a factor in the proposed premium increase,
    (4) Any changes in the make up of rating classes should also be fully assessed. The classes should not be constructed so as to subject policyholders, particularly older ones, to adverse selection thereby shouldering more of any needed premium increases to address the increased cost and utilization of medical services. There needs to be some fairness assurances here as the tendency would be to create new classes for younger policyholders enabling lower premiums for that class–and enabling Wellmark to combat declining membership levels at the expense of its older policyholders.
    (5) Any proposed changes in Individual Rating Factors cannot be ignored in approving proposed Base Premium Rate Increases. Consumers (and Providers for that matter) need protection for their total out-of-pocket costs and to ensure that requested premium increases coupled with benefit decreases are not duplicative.

    Thanks for your consideration of these matters. It is a difficult job balancing the sometimes competing objectives of safety and soundness for the insurance industry, with protecting consumers’ interests. Best of luck.

  269. Karen Keller Says:

    When the CEO is making a yearly salary in the millions, the rest of us who pay that salary do not need to pay higher rates. Period.

  270. Philip Fisher Says:

    This is an outrage. I am 60 years old and my wife and i pay our way on everything. We do not have some large corporation footing the bill for our premiums. And we do not have the luxury of Government Wellfare like Senator Grassely. Like everyone else we need a break. We can not afford $3.00 + gas, groceries, house payments, other insuance premiums,… when will it end? Please no more increases.

  271. Susan Krone Says:

    I believe it’s time to stop with the double digits on an increase. Ms. Jackson at Wellmark has noted a couple of times how people go to the Mayo Clinic for care, however sometimes we have too. If one doctor will not see me then the whole clinic has ban me like DMOS. It’s not my fault that I must travel to another state. My PCP can refer me, but he can’t at another place here in Des Moines unless I change doctors.

    When will the double digits stop we as many customers Wellmark has?

  272. Rodney Fortune Says:

    My premiums with Wellmark for health care have more than doubled the last three years. now they want another 12.2%. It is crazy. I am uninsurable and have had coverage with Wellmark for 20yrs. individually and many many years prior under a group. All those years of no claims and now when I am older they are Grossly overcharging those of us that can not change. If I were healthy, I could change to better coverage with them at 1/3rd the cost. No wonder we are getting Obama Care. Our State regulators refuse to address the real issues bedfcause of the campaigne donations of the industry. They could reduce premiums if they credited the money spent on Lobbyist etc. When did the State forget that the definition of insurance is the sharing of risk between the masses. How can the Iowa Dept. of Ins. allow the continuation of the Gouging of the Sick people. Wellmark told me “TOUGH LUCK” when I asked for a way to reduce costs. Won’t even let me change deductibles because I moved from Iowa thus allowing them to take away that option. Please do not allow Wellmark to futher abuse their high Risk clients who now need insurance.MS

  273. BH Says:

    If Wellmark cannot do business without increasing rates on a yearly basis simply to pad pockets; it’s time for consumers to look elsewhere. BC/BS insurance has truly become unaffordable for many hard working Americans. This is why I opted out of BC/BS two years ago. More rate hikes Wellmark? Really? Perhaps the company should look in to trimming adminiastrative expenses such as lavish Christmas parties and fat bonuses to save money. Just to let you know, I have not received a raise in 4 years. Don’t tell me about making ends meet with the increased cost of living. I will never shed a tear for corporate America as they “struggle” to make it on billions of dollars in profits. We all have to make sacrifices. Shame on you Wellmark, you just can’t keep from ramming your consumers.

  274. Carolyn Osterman Says:

    Vote NO to rate increase, over 39% increase past 4yrs. 2009-11%, 2010-27%, 2011-8%, 2012-9%. currently paying $19,000.00 year. we are small farmers can’t afford any more increases. was told we can’t get insurance from another carrier and BCBS said if we change our policy they will drop us. our rates are increasing while our coverage is decreasing. ms

  275. joan kanne Says:

    Vote NO to rate increase, too high already people will have to go without if you continue to raise our insurance rates. MS

  276. Jaye Stefani Says:

    The rate increase hearing is tomorrow so a letter will not reach Susan Voss in time, and I truely doubt that these emails will be read and have an influence on the Commissioner’s decision. Wellmark is a monopoly and has a powerful influence on local government.

    I strongly urge the commissioner to not allow Wellmark to increase premiums more than the inflation rate. They say the cost of their “campus” or the salaries of their CEO’s is not a factor, but who are they kidding. The many millions have to come from somewhere, and they come from the policy holders. We know that more people are seeking healthcare and that the health of some are costing the insurance company more money. Perhaps they can reduce their costs by providing premium reductions (or a rebate) for people with a normal weight, don’t smoke, or who use the doctor less frequently.

    I am retired from Iowa State University and have a supplimental policy with Wellmark The $255.23 I pay per month is a high premium compared to other companies. I am told if I leave the Wellmark policy, I can never return. I and many of my retired friends feel like we are being held hostage. We know that Wellmark provides good service and is stable, yet the premiums are too high.

    I urge the commissioner to review every detail of Wellmark’s request, including all the money spent on salaries, compensation, and political influence. And urge Wellmark instead to work on incentives for a healthier population.

  277. Marge Jarnell Says:

    I received a letter about a week after choosing Blue Cross as my individual insurance that they are
    requesting a 13% rate increase. Having worked in utilization review at a local hospital, I was dealing with insurance companies who didn’t even want to pay for hospital stays. Hospital reimbursement is going down but insurance companies want to increase premiums. This means they want bigger revenues. I know an actuarian who sits in the BCBS office and figures out how high premiums need to be to get a certain profit. Please help the people who are paying their private premiums for health care coverage. Big insurance companies are making money. Please make a decision in favor of the people of Iowa and not let BCBS increase rates.MS

  278. Greg Glaser Says:

    Somewhat forced into early retirement 3 1/2 yrs. ago, I have seen my premiums go from $435 to $602 a month in that span and now Wellmark wants a to add anther 12-13% or about another $78 a month. That really is obscene. Just a couple of things as the other comments here have covered almost everyone’s concerns.
    1) They preach over and over again about how they initiate programs to help keep people healthier and yet WILL NOT cover any preventive immunizations in their individual policies. How hypocritical!! They would rather have someone in the hospital for severe respiratory flu or pneumonia than maybe ward that off by covering flu, pneumonia, shingle shots etc.
    2) Their investment earnings on their over 1 billion (maybe way over) in reserves are not counted in their expenses per dollar in premiums (.87 cents per dollar they say). At a very conservative 5% return on reserves that would amount to over $50 million dollars. I’m sure that’s a loop hole the state lets them get away with. Please be very careful that they aren’t filling their coffers as much as possible before they have to accept more people because of the health care act. I am stuck with Wellmark because of the preexisting conditions bull crap that they have been able to get away with for years. Shame on you people for letting them get away with that. Picking and choosing only the healthiest people to cover. That is something they should have been held accountable for years ago. More of our gutless lawmakers pandering to big corporations.
    In closing, please do all you can for the defenseless, because that is what we are.

  279. sue loufersweiler Says:

    Vote No to rate increase…. don’t know what Wellmark spends money on besides big new buildings. we can’t keep paying more and getting less. I had to fight to get something covered which was clearly in the policy. was told they are instructed to deny everything first usually client doesn’t catch it… This is an monopoly… please refuse their proposed increase.MS

  280. Shirley Schmidt Says:

    Dear Commissioner,
    A few questions that may be helpful to the hearing:
    1. Wellmark has had a “grandfathered” status for plans purchased before the Health Care Act began taking effect. Can it be explained why base rates of an identical plan that is “non-grandfathered” is so much higher than the “grandfathered” plan?? PLEASE!
    2. What percentage of my premium, in past years as well as future, goes toward paying for uninsureds’ services? This info should be disclosed to us as a means of comparison for the consumer and competitiveness between insurers.
    3. 13% is quite a jump for the common man. Why is this industry entitled to such increases while others abide by the cost of living rates?
    I would also like to have had access to Wellmark’s profit/loss reports.
    Shirley Schmidt
    Thornton, IA
    (Wellmark customer for 30+ years — but UNsatisfied for 15 of those years)
    MS

  281. Connie Says:

    I also am writing to urge the Iowa Insurance Commissioner to deny Wellmark’s request for another increase in 2013. As an employee of a rather large Iowa company, we have had our 401k contributions cut, wage freezes put in place as well as been asked to pay more for our health care coverage. If Wellmark’s expenses are truly the reason they are requesting an increase, it’s quite possible small changes within their organization could save dollars for the corporation without having to go to the public once again. Possibly the people at the top could take a small reduction in their salaries and/or bonuses (as our executives have) for the overall good of everyone. If they have actually have reserves topping $1 billion dollars as quoted in the DSM Register by Laura Jackson, maybe they could reduce their reserve to cover the “higher claims payouts”. It is stressed almost daily by one form or another to take part in “preventative health care”, yet it appears when people do just that, then the major insurance provider in the State of Iowa, comes forward for another rate increase. I feel this should be checked and rechecked before any decision is made.

  282. Sandy Blayhard Says:

    I vehemently object to this increase. Everything about this process is madding.

  283. Ann Nurre Says:

    This e-mail is in response to Wellmark premium increase notice:

    Three years ago, my employer of 17-years consolidated due to the economy & I lost my job. After the Cobra insurance ran out, we joined Farm Bureau Wellmark BC/BS with a high deductible HSA plan. At the time the premium seemed reasonable, but over the past three years, the premium has taken HUGE increases. We are very conservative & only see a doctor when absolutely necessary.

    We should NOT be penalized with higher premiums when we do not take advantage of/use or abuse health insurance. Even though I have a job, I earn $32,000 less than my previous employment & now pay my own insurance premium. It is not fair for Wellmark to request a 13% increase, when my employer only gives me 3%/yearly.

    If this premium increase is granted, we will be forced to look for other insurance or go without.

    We say NO to the proposed Wellmark price increase.

    Thank You

    Rod & Ann Nurre

  284. Threasa Palas Says:

    We don’t come close to meeting our deductible every year. why should some of us who don’t use it get this increase of 13%. We are healthy enough not to use it. Its not fair. I’m not going to be having maternity anymore so I should not have to pay for someone else. I thought cost of living was pretty much in check. I don’t understand how the insurance company believes that their costs are over 13%. Its very frustrating becuase this is how so many people go without insurance. that will be use becuase i can’t afford to keep increasing premiums and never use. I would be better off placing those funds in a savings account. Otherwise I’m just wasting it so they can build another building somewhere.

  285. Ellen Says:

    My husband and I, who are both self-employed, bought a high-deductible HSA plan through Wellmark in mid-2011 for our family of four. At the time, I thought the monthly rate was reasonable considering we had to basically pay all of our health care costs since our deductible is over $5K. We also have to contribute to the HSA to cover our out of pocket expenses. If this rate increase goes through, our monthly fee will have gone up $150/month or 28% in less than 2 years. I feel like we got tricked by buying this plan. We like the HSA plan, but I feel like individual policy holders are being unfairly singled out for increases. Wellmark needs to do a better job of negotiating rates with the providers. Other insurance companies we’ve had would have large discounts off the “retail” rates. Sometimes Wellmark doesn’t discount the rate charged by the provider at all. Wellmark’s representative mentioned in an article that people are going to Mayo for maintenance care. Sounds like Wellmark needs to do a better job of working with their providers so they are not referring patients to Mayo when they don’t need to go. I think they need to work harder so we are not burdened with 10%+ rate increases every year. I think Wellmark is just taking the easy way out and rather than upset relationships with their providers, they are putting all of the burden on the policy holders because we have no choice but to take it. I hope the insurance exchange brings some real competition into this market so we have more viable options.

  286. B Andersen Says:

    I write to strongly oppose Wellmark’s rate increase. This health insurance is overwhelmingly purchased by low-income people who cannot afford another rate hike. The salaries of Wellmark’s top staff are obscene and should be illegal – $3.1 million for the CEO! He should be ashamed. If he wants to help, he could lower his salary to the average Iowa salary (to see what it’s like to live as most people live) and use the money saved to assist people with lower insurance rates.The Iowa Insurance Commissioner consistently grants Wellmark’s rate increases despite the injustice of this company continuing to gouge poor people while paying its executives money that could be used to lower rates, especially for those who practice healthy habits, such as not smoking, drinking or being obese. Do the right thing and deny any rate increase.

  287. anonymous Says:

    Once again, I’m saying that other insurance companies are seeing large increases each year. BCBS is scrutinized, but I never see the others questioned even though their increases are similar.

    I retired from a large employer and this year needed to buy my supplement on the open market; Wellmark came in at a lower cost than the others I was offered. I’ve had Wellmark of MN for many years and this year I, (along with many of my former co-workers) have signed up with Wellmark of Iowa.. We were all happy with our insurance, with timely payments by BCBS, and able to get the medical care we needed.

    I’ve seen large increases in all areas of living; insurance isn’t the only one.

    I don’t think this forum invites anyone to admit they believe BCBS should raise rates – I don’t want any areas of my cost of living to be increased, but that is far from realistic.

  288. Lila Carter Says:

    I don’t see how you can justify another raise – 3 last year and substantial raises every year since I retired. I have used my insurance very little. I went with BC because my mother had it for years – did not abuse it but it did pay well when she finally needed it before dying. There must be a better way. No wonder the people who thought they could retire and live decently (not overdoing the good life) have reached a decision point about insurance. Nice you made this public to most people after the deadline to choose insurance for the coming year. Do not allow the raise…..

  289. Joan and Jerome Kohlhaas Says:

    For the love of God, when will this stop?? Once again, Wellmark is breaking the backs of individual policy holders. Aren’t we already carrying more than our fair share of the load? We already pay $1799 per month for a 90/10 co-pay and a $3000 family deductible, and except for my husband taking the lowest dose possible of blood pressure medicine and Lipitor, we are a healthy family. In 2008 we paid $983; 2009 – $1124; 2010 – $1352; 2011 – $1480, and now with the proposed rate hike, we are facing paying $2026 EVERY MONTH!! $22,322 PER YEAR!! This is robbery! Since 2003, we have paid $129,264 in premiums. We could look for other insurance, but are scared to death of falling through the cracks.
    Susan Voss – help us, please!!

  290. Mary Rose Stone Says:

    I am asking that Wellmark be denied it’s newest attempt to increase rates. The annual increases for individual policy holders is nothing short of outrageous. There is no way I can believe that costs go up forvthis group from 15 to 23% EVERY year! I am terribly suspicious that Wellmark is raising rates on individuals because we have no clout; no bargaining power. They are not raising rates at this level annually for groups. I am a healthy 59 year old woman and yet I am paying about $750 a month. Please deny this new rate increase!!!!!

  291. Kirk Hartung Says:

    Wellmark raised my premiums in August 2012, on my policy anniversary (about 11% if my memory is correct). Now they want to raise it again, over 12%, less than 1 year later. And according to the letter they sent to me, this next raise is for the period April-December, 2013. So it appears that they will want to raise it again after another 9 months. There are very few businesses that can raise their rates by double digits, year after year, and have any customers or clients left. Wellmark has a monopoly on individual policies in Iowa, and they are taking advantage of their policy holders, who have few if any other options.

  292. Karen Damjanovic Says:

    To whom it may concern:

    I am writing express my concern for the rising cost of health
    insurance. My husband & I live in rural Iowa and due to employment
    changes over the past couple years we have less income and have to
    purchase our own health insurance. The rising cost of basic necessities
    is making it more and more difficult to make ends meet. The reality we
    face is choosing what basic needs we can afford over extras such as
    health insurance.

    Thank you for considering this difficult matter.
    Karen Damjanovic

  293. Joan and Jerome Kohlhaas Says:

    For the love of God, when will this stop?? Once again, Wellmark is breaking the back of individual policy holders. Aren’t we already carrying more than our fair share of the load? We already pay $1799 per month for a 90/10 co-pay and a $3000 family deductible, and except for my husband taking the lowest dose possible of blood pressure medicine and Lipitor, we are a healthy family. In 2008, we paid $983/month; 2009 – $1124/month; 2010 – $1352/month; 2011 – $1480/month, and now with the proposed rate hike, we are facing paying $2026 EVERY MONTH! $22,322 PER YEAR!! This is robbery! Since 2003, we have paid $129,264 in premiums. We could look for other insurance, but we are scared to death of falling through the cracks. Susan Voss – please help us!

    Sincerely,

    Joan and Jerome Kohlhaas

  294. Don McCusker Says:

    After reading may of the comments already submitted, I’m left wondering what I could say that would stand out from the others.

    What will it take Susan (or should we be talking to Nick Gerhart) to make you hear the voices of Iowa? Will you EVER understand or personally feel the impact of the price hikes you’ve approved ANNUALLY?

    Every year it’s the same story from Health Insurers like BCBS… medical expenses are going up along with administration costs. Yet I see multi-million dollar salaries for top executives, absorbitant bonuses paid out, and new facilities being built (in BCBS’s case.. the most expensive building ever built in Iowa).

    Please don’t try to qualifiy these increases (Laura Jackson) by suggesting Iowan insurance rates are still low from a national perspective. You say you pay out roughly $.87 for every dollar of premium you bring in but as the DSM Register stated.. you’ve earned over a billion dollars from investment income? How is it that you’ve had so MUCH money to invest if your costs have gone up so high?

    It should come as no surprise that many people are dropping out of the insurance pool. It’s not by choice… it’s simply that they’ve been priced out.

    Susan or Nick… PLEASE STAND UP… and for once… SAY NO to the proposed increase. jl

  295. Janelle Ohmstede Says:

    I work in a retail pharmary and see what people spend on there medication and I take care of my elderly mom do you really feel that you need to do a increase when our seniors are going to receive a social security Inc.which has not happen for a whiile they get $ and you want to take away like the nursing homes do. I would like to look at the budgets / books of BS/BS and see where the $ is going, and how many are receiving bonuses instead of money applied to controlled expences. I feel there should not be a rate increase the staff can look how things were done in the 80’s before computers and I believe we had better service then with out all the rate increase. They need to remember who pays there wages if they keep rates low they would keep more customers that would mean more $. With out rate increase. Customer service is the key and it does pay the bills word of mouth. jl

  296. Terry Turner Says:

    Terry Turner Say:s Please Don’t Raise our insuranc Premiums anymore.. Please. jl

  297. Patricia Says:

    WHO GETS A 13% INCREASE IN THIS ECONOMY?????? My husband and I are retired. He is eligible for Medicare, but we still have to purchase a supplement policy and prescription policy in addition to what we pay for Medicare. (Yes, everyone pays $102 a month for Medicare coverage, which is deducted from their social security check. It’s not free.) I am under 65, so I have to purchase individual insurance. Even with a high deductible policy, the premiums are ridiculous.
    Our household did not get a 13% increase in income this year.
    We will not get it next year, or the year after that, or EVER!

    What really offends me is the fact that after all of the comments are received and the hearing has been held, “the Commissioner of Insurance will review the request to increase the base premium rate. The purpose will be to learn if Wellmark followed accepted industry standards to calculate the proposed increase.” Did you get that? The only thing taken into consideration is “accepted industry standards” – not whether the increase is reasonable, or justified by current economic conditions. jl

  298. Gail Bessom Klodt Says:

    Everyone that has previously commented is correct in so many of their perspectives and the financial robbery that is occurring. I don’t see one skewed perspective in any post. This is all due to greed, administrative costs and CEO’s pulling out 30 MILLION+ a year in salaries, not to mention bonuses, etc.

    As everyone else has done here, we’ve had to change/raise our deductible a few times over the years to keep affordable health care insurance. Given the fact I was treated for a year for disease, I am now unable to purchase a health care plan elsewhere. So, I’m trapped.

    It would be one thing if we were paying for administrative costs that were timely and accurate- but that is not the case. For I’ve found out that I’ve been diagnosed as being diabetic and have NO clue where they found that erroneous information from. It was almost laughable when I rec’d a call from BC and a nurse tells me she is calling to help me with my diabetes! My response was something like, “I’m diabetic? Seriously? When was I diagnosed?”

    Another part of this “increase” is due to Obamacare. Plain and simple. Health insurance companies have been raising our rates in the last 20 years gearing up for what we are going to have shoved down our collective throats NOW. I say, how about some of the “upper management” take a decrease in their salaries to help carry this mess? Who in God’s name needs even a couple of million a year to survive?

    My question to Blue Cross is this: how about a pubic accounting report before our rates are raised- WE WANT TO SEE WHERE OUR PREMIUMS ARE GOING!!!

    All I can say to everyone here that is commenting is this: Not only are these health care insurance companies going to break our backs financially and if you think health care is declining now, just wait and see what happens next. We’ll keep paying through the nose and the care levels will keep declining. It is already happening and has been for the last 20 years.

    I think the world of the doctors and nurses that have cared for me in times of need through the years, it is the insurance industry that is damaging health care and it’s costing the consumer in amounts that simply are not “profits” but blatant greed. We do NOT get what we pay for when it comes to insurance and health care- nope, we have someone who sits behind a desk deciding if we really need that test or evaluation, much less surgery. Yep, we are no longer on the “slippery slope”, we’re headed for the abyss.

    The entire MESS is FUBAR. jl

  299. J. Mac Jordan Says:

    Ad Hominem attacks and emotional appeals aside and entirely from the standpoint of reason, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, by definition of the word so defined by Iowa Code, 708.A.1.3, and so defined by the United States Code, Title 18, Section 2331 and amended by Public Law 107-56-Oct. 26, 2001 (aka, USA Patriot Act of 2001) is engaged in domestic terrorist activity in the State of Iowa and the United States of America; I quote:

    Iowa Code – Terrorism Defined:

    “‘Terrorism’ means an act intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, or to influence the policy of a unit of government by intimidation or coercion, [new clause starts here] or to affect the conduct of a unit of government, by shooting, throwing, launching, discharging, or otherwise using a dangerous weapon at, into, or in a building, vehicle, airplane, railroad engine, railroad car, or boat, occupied by another person, or within an assembly of people. The terms “intimidate”, “coerce”, “intimidation”, and “coercion”, as used in this definition, are not to be construed to prohibit picketing, public demonstrations, and similar forms of expressing ideas or views regarding legitimate matters of public interest protected by the United States and Iowa Constitutions [i.e., Freedom of Speech].” (Iowa Code, 708.A.1.3)

    Please pay attention to the word “or” used repeatedly, generating independent clauses – i.e., terrorism need not be violent action and the and “…or to affect the conduct of a unit of government, by shooting,throwing….” clause is separate among a series of independent qualifications of terrorism within the definition.

    USA Patriot Act – Terrorism Defined:

    “(5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
    (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
    (B) appear to be intended—
    (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
    (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

    Again, violent action is not a requisite of terrorist activity to have occurred or to be occurring. Physical violence is an independent clause.

    How they have met the qualification of terrorism? They have intentionally leveraged the limitations of the current legislation with specific intent, as described in their own letters, sent to the people, citing “Factor (3), Operating Margins,” for “reserve funds” to use for “administrative expenses and taxes,” which can be wholly claimed by reason and purpose of a sole increase in profit margin by rule of reductio ad absurdum and sheer redundancy. Factor (2) specifically is titled “Administrative Expenses and Taxes – it cannot be cited twice for two different “Factors” as premise and conclusion simultaneously for an increase; logic dictates otherwise. This is just one reason among many – others will cite more when they learn what is happening against the civilian population (through intimidation) and government action (through interference, unscrupulous influence). (Ref. letter V43, “Notice of Proposed Base Premium Rate Increase and Public Hearing,” undated).

    The Iowa Insurance Commissioner should take careful consideration of how they are being manipulated for a company’s sole gain in profit, based on outright contradiction – this is wholesale domestic terrorism, happening in Iowa at this very moment.

    Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, by definition, is engaged in terrorist activity; but, also, Conspiracy to Commit Terrorism (Iowa Code, 706.1). Guilt, however, for either, is for a jury to decide; but the USA Patriot Act sets the level needed for a guilty judgment as “appearance.” Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield will face this scrutiny and will certainly drag as many as possible with them on the way down.

    Please serve the people according to the law as it is written.

    Thank You.

    Also, for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield change agents that call me, and I’m sure others, please stop. jl

  300. Kirk Whittlesey Says:

    Susan: I am an Optometrist and have BCBS insurance, have had for a number of years. I am on both ends of the insurance game, but I do not see any increases in reimbursments. It is hard to
    believe that in the last 3 years that they have had a 30% increase in costs. With a new building, no expenses held back, and bonuses for their employees while charging us more and more every year is hard to take. My wife and I try to stay healthy and we use their insurance very little every year and we are forced to pay significant increases every year. Wish I could increase my salary that amount every year. I am self employed and have to pay for my insurance with no help for anyone. I know my statement will not change anything and they seem to always get their way. Guess you have to at least hear from the people of Iowa to voice our opinion. jl

  301. J. Mac Jordan Says:

    All posting on this blog should make sure they are giving sound and valid arguments against Wellmark’s intended actions. A judge is bound by rule of law and must make decisions accordingly. Character attacks against the company and/or complaints of emotional distress will be largely dismissed. If comments are still to be made available before the hearing, they should focus on the laws as they are written, from as many vectors as possible; thus the Commissioner will have a stronger backing facing Wellmark and they (Wellmark) will, in turn, be forced to face down the laws as cited. So for all those who are going broke or those whose comments blast Wellmark by character judgments, you should place your energy in finding ways to corner Wellmark and make the decision for the commissioner much easier. And for those who are not familiar with a sound argument or a valid argument, that is nothing to be ashamed of – research the definitions and develop strong arguments against their proposal. They would have greater weight than emotional outcry, and certainly would prevent the outright dismissal of arguments by those upset and hellbent on attacking Wellmark’s character or image. jl

  302. Linda Says:

    I was appalled after reading the Wellmark Chairman received $3.1 million in 2011! His current salary is not listed. The Vice President states that’s the cost of that kind of talent. With our premiums going up every year, I’m wondering about that “talent”. The decision to spend $250 million on a new building with many luxuries seems ludicrous.

    We pay $2,000 deductible, no dental, no vision, a $20 co-pay on office visits, and a 60/40 split on all my medications. No medications are covered for my husband. We have many out of pocket expenses on top of this.

    In 11 years, our premiums have increased each year, as follows.

    2003 $6,588 plus $2,000 yearly for deductibles
    2004 $7,510
    2005 $7,800
    2006 $8,488
    2007 $8,526
    2008 $8,603
    2009 $9,633
    2010 $11,049
    2011 $12,616
    2012 $13,617
    2013 $15,428 (With 13.3% increase) With deductible: $17,428

    Like the majority of Iowans, with our health issues, we feel we have no alternatives in companies, and cannot take the chances of changing insurers. Please stop this increase! jl

    Linda

  303. Kathy Tack Says:

    January 4, 2013
    Consumer Advocate@iid.iowa.gov.
    RE: Public comments regarding the proposed base premium rate increase by Wellmark
    I am a re
    Cgistered and licensed dietitian. I strongly oppose the base rate increase proposed by Wellmark.. In a recent summary of benefits and coverage I have with my policy, there was absolutely no mention or reference to nutrition or the role it plays in both the prevention and treatment of almost all chronic diseases. Currently, diabetes management is the only chronic disease where medical nutrition therapy is a covered service by Wellmark, yet heart disease, high blood pressure, celiac disease, diverticulitis, and obesity are but a few among many of the chronic diseases impacted by nutrition and thus play a vital role in the costs of disease management. It has been reported the for every $4 spent on health coverage, $3 of that is for chronic diseases. Registered Dietitians have not been allowed to become providers in the Wellmark network, nor is there approval for their services to be covered in an effort to reduce costs for these other chronic diseases.
    Our Registered Dietitian colleagues in North Carolina completed a nutrition therapy cost study and with the help of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina concluded that for every $1 spent on medical nutrition therapy, $3 was saved.
    I would hope the Iowa Insurance Division will ask Wellmark why medical nutrition therapy has not been included in their search for cost savings.
    In the meantime, we should not support a further increase in Wellmark premium costs. I take care of myself I don’t have a chronic disease nor am I overweight. I don’t take routine medication at this time either.
    Kathy Tack, RD, LD

  304. Carleen Schwieso Says:

    To Whom It May Concern,
    Why should there be such a large increase in the premium for the Wellmark Insurance Company when many of the people they are serving has receive little or no increase in their wages in the past year? Wellmark received fairly large increases the past two years and it would not be easy for some of their customers to take another large increase again this year, it might just force them to drop their insurance coverage all together.
    Sincerely,
    Carleen Schwieso

  305. Anonymous Says:

    If Wellmark needs to raise the monthly rates due to so called costs then maybe they should look into doing away with their advertising dept. They are pretty much a monopoly here so they don’t need to advertise and can realocate that budget to where it would be needed. And maybe a freeze on upper management income would help too.

    Thank you

  306. Darlene V. Whitney Says:

    I am a widower, and I live on a fixed income. Every year you raise my Insurance Premium between $250.00 to $350.00. I pay for my own Health Insurance. I don’t mind paying a reasonable increase, but this is outrageous every year! You are pricing me right out of my Health Insurance with you… I can barely afford what I pay now!!! You charge more and more, and you take away more and more benefits, so you cover less and less each and every year!!!

    I tried to attend the hearing this morning at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, Iowa. There was no one there to direct the hearing? It was a total loss of my time. So I am sending you this e-mail instead…

    Darlene V. Whitney

  307. Todd Luker Says:

    Hello,

    I am Todd Luker and really feel the desperate need to contact you and State Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss. I keep track of my increases and in 2011 my insurance went up 20.1%. Last year it went up 9.25%. And now BC/BS wants another 12.2%. It is time to say no and address the hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmaceutical companies that drive our costs up. According to BC/BS’s letter to me, it states Medical Services went up 10.33%, Administrative Expenses and Taxes, 1.44%, and Operating Margin 0.43%. I find this hard to understand because my copay is 20%, and in 2012 it NEVER increased. Maybe BC/BS head chairman John Forsyth can explain this to me. In nine years his salary went from 1.3 million to 3.1 million dollars. This is totally disgusting. Let us hear what he makes as of today, 1.5.2013.

    I became a diabetic in 1965, that is now 48 years. I was two and a half years old. I take care of myself. I visit my physician very three months, eat right, check my blood four times a day and am tired of being penalized for this. If I had a choice, I would not of become a diabetic. I didn’t have any say in it, being 2 1/2.

    Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion, and please shoot this proposal down.

    Todd Luker
    Clear Lake

  308. Kevin Delaney Says:

    i along with anybody that got the notice oppose the rate hick. Its not the fact that i don’t feel that it don’t cost anymore for health care its the fact that i cant aford to pay anymore for my insurance. just in my little world theirs a new house and a baby on the way and to pay 1000 a month for health care i wont be able to aford the basic things in my life so if the rate highk does into effect i will eather have to cancle my policy or lower my dectible. so if you want my vote i vote no atlease till the world gets in fincanle problems worked out. thatnk you and good day

  309. Daniel E. DeKoter Says:

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    The real issue with Wellmark’s rates, as with the prices charged by many corporations in our country (e.g. oil companies), is greed.

    What message does the government give the public when this company is rewarded for paying its CEO $3.1 million a year while tens of thousands of Iowans cannot afford health insurance?

    If I could, I would order Wellmark to reduce its costs by making mandatory across the board cuts of 75% for all senior executives. If they protest that they just can’t get good help at those rates, require the company to submit an anonymous survey by an independent survey firm, polling all employees below senior management on whether they would accept the CEO job at $500,000 a year. I think you’ll get nearly a 100% “yes” from the lower echelons who are carrying the real work load. The idea that senior management is uniquely qualified to do this work and must be paid millions, has no evidence whatsoever to support it.

    Our government should protect the common man instead of giving licenses to steal to corporate managers and owners who lack a conscience.

    Daniel E. DeKoter

  310. Rodney C. Kubichek Says:

    what is the increase proposed in comparison to the increases passed on to group policies and big employers in iowa

  311. Susan Fessler Says:

    Another increase by Wellmark this year will leave me no choice but to forgo health insurance for my self and 17 year old son. The cost will be about $550.00 a month. In the past, I’ve had to reduce benefits, raise the deductible and go without necessities to pay the monthly premium. Welmark is forcing many of us to join the ranks of the uninsured thereby placing a further stress on the already overburdened health care system. With the increased costs in food, utilities, and gas, Wellmark’s anuual increases can no longer be absorbed the middle-class self-insured family. Please, do not let Welmark keep many Iowans from providing health insurance for our children and selves.

    Susan Fessler

  312. Donna Jeffrey Says:

    Please disallow the rate increase requested by BCBS. Any company that can afford to pay its chairman 3.1 million dollars per year does not need to generate more revenue.
    Donna Jeffrey

  313. Anonymous Says:

    To whom,
    I read the article in the Des Moines Sunday paper and concerned me as I have this insurance. I understand you are caught between a wall and a hard place…but be reasonable to the American people. Raising the rates 11%-12% is twice that of the national average. Does the chairman need such a pay raise to live on…most of us live on much/much less ? Be strong and do the right thing. Thank you for your time.

  314. Rita Dudley Says:

    I would like to offer comments on Wellmark’s request for a rate increase for health insurance premiums.

    I am 62, and retired. My husband recently retired and will go on Medicare in July, but I will have to provide my own health insurance for the next three years until I qualify for Medicare. I am doubtful I can afford the $12,000+ a year it would take to cover those payments, so right now I am considering going without health insurance until I can qualify for Medicare and hoping I can “get by” for two years without having to go to the doctor or the hospital. I am trying not to use my current insurance because I’m afraid if I file too many claims, it will be hard to find someone who can insure me for a decent price. I am currently researching traveler’s health insurance to get me by over those two years. The rates are reasonable.

    Many of us older folks are staying away from the doctor’s office because every trip for care is a strike against us. Whatever goes on our records clicks up the premium prices in horrid increments. I had a friend who went for headache relief and found out later that one insurer would not take her because the headaches posed a “chronic” label on her record and she was not deemed a good risk. I have gall bladder attacks but hope I can put off treating them until I can go on Medicare in a few years. God forbid my insurance company finds out I have gall bladder problems. I turned down treatment for severe osteoporosis (Reclast) because it would have cost me $1000 out of pocket and would have put a black mark on my record. I am hoping my calcium tablet and more greens will suffice.
    My goal is to get by for two more years until I can get Medicare coverage. Wellmark is out of my ability to pay already. It sure makes me wonder what the truth is about paying for rising expenses whenever I drive by that brand new building in downtown Des Moines. I would much rather they lower their rates and forget about putting all that money and personnel into Blue Zoning the state. How out of touch are they about what we really need here in Iowa?

    Rita Dudley

  315. SK Evans Says:

    Health insurance is a terribly touchy subject these days. I hear what Wellmark is saying in regard to higher costs…and I am very disappointed and frustrated that they continue to expect “ALL” consumers to pay more yet again.

    What I’m trying to say I guess, is that what frustrates me personally, and many of my friends and family, is that I bought the lowest cost policy I could to keep my insurance premium costs in line with my budget. Basically, the only thing my Wellmark policy does for me is cover a catastrophic event should I end up in the hospital for treatment. And even that will leave me with a very, very large deductible expense. My basic policy covers very little actually. So in addition to paying for the policy, I pay for most of my medical expenses out of pocket. And that’s just basics, eye exams, dental visits, etc….the things that keep me well.

    Having said that, please note, I DO follow Wellmarks advice….I exercise, I have a healthy diet, I do try to take care of myself. Basically, I am healthy…my Wellmark policy is that “what if” back up for hospital expenses. I barely use my Wellmark insurance at all and I pay them a considerable amount of money each year for the privilege of saying I have health insurance coverage.

    Yet even tho I follow their plan of trying to stay healthy and avoid creating medical expenses, I too will be expected to pay more for a meager policy, even tho I have not contributed to the increased costs???

    I find it disconcerting that a review of my personal health history is used to determine what my premium rate will be when I take out a policy. From that point on, with no change in my health status, or my use of my policy coverage, I must again pay more to maintain the same policy? Again I am asking why? Why doesn’t my premium rate still reflect my personal health history…I should in fact get a reduction in premium as I am saving them money by staying healthy!
    I know…a little far fetched, but hopefully you see my point.

    I am not angry as so many people are, but I will have a decision to make if the rates are allowed to go up again this year. I will no longer be able to afford to carry a “what if” policy with Wellmark as any increases this year will put the cost of coverage out of my reach. I will become one of the many uninsured Iowans who will continue to try to remain healthy to avoid major medical expenses. But should I end up in the hospital for any reason, I will just have to take my chances that somehow that care will be paid for by other taxpayers. Unfortunate but true…Obama can require that we have health care, but unless he can pay for it, it’s still out of reach for many. The government can take my tax refunds, should I ever get one, to cover my non-insured status.

    Please, what harm is there in saying NO to Wellmark for the first time in years? Give the consumers a break this year and ask Wellmark to look inward to cut their operating costs to save, instead of passing it along to us. We’ve pretty much hit the wall here….

    Businesses have made a lot of internal changes over the last 5-7 years to control expenses. Salaries have been reduced across the board; benefit packages have been restructured; sadly employees have been laid off or early retirement packages offered to reduce the payroll expenses. And everyone has shopped diligently for lower cost health insurance. Shouldn’t Wellmark be doing the same??? I guess they won’t ever have to if you say yes to another increase. While the rest of us can’t pass our cost increases along to the consumers…Wellmark can???

    OK…so I will get off my soapbox now. Just terribly frustrated like everyone else about the health insurance costs. An increase is just no longer an option for me personally. I guess I should look at the bright side…if I’m no longer paying Wellmark for a policy, I’ll actually get a raise in my income this year!!!

    SK Evans

  316. Denise Bentz Says:

    Dear Sirs:

    I sure hope you don’t approve another rate increase. Do you realize that all Wellmark employees get a huge (and I mean HUGE) bonus right around March every year? My sister has worked there for several years and her bonus was over $6000. I worked there for 3 years and my bonus was smaller, like around $1500 to $2000.

    I’m sure Wellmark does not advertise the fact that every employee gets a huge bonus every year.

    I don’t think it’s fair of John Forsythe (CEO) to expect members to subsidize what in reality is bonus money to the employees.

    Please take what I’m saying into consideration, it is the absolute truth.

    Thank you,

    Denise Bentz

  317. Judith Goodrich Says:

    I am writing in regard to the Des Moines Register article today regarding Wellmark’s proposed 12-13% increase. I believe it is wrong to raise the rates on the insured by such a huge percent and I strongly urge the insurance commissioner to reject ANY increase! Year after year they ask for and RECEIVE large increases, maybe it is time to let them know that enough is enough. It is the duty of the insurance commission to use some common sense for once. The working wage is not going up, yet insurance costs continue to skyrocket. No wonder it is getting harder and harder for the average person to get ahead. So many people are struggling just to pay their bills, let alone pay the fees to be insured! If Ms. Jackson was truly sympathetic of those struggling, she would do something about it. The president of Wellmark of IA makes DOUBLE what he made a few years ago? Hard to believe that he makes $3.1 million!! Just another case of the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor. Give Iowans a break, Insurance Commission, show the people of Iowa that you care about THEM for once, not just for big insurance executives!

    Judith Goodrich
    Wellman, IA

  318. Tim Shriver Says:

    To the Iowa Insurance Division:

    I have endured Wellmark’s outrageous rate increases on my private health insurance policy for twenty years.

    In 2010, my wife and I gave up. We opted for the Wellmark policy with the highest possible deductible of $10,800 and enrolled our children in Medicaid.

    When we dropped our family’ls comprehensive insurance, the annual premium was approaching $24,000. Today, with the increases in 2010 and 2011, the premium would easily be $28,000. Even this policy had a deductible of $3000.

    According to Iowa Workforce Development, the median household income in Iowa in 2011 was $49,545. And Wellmark, with a straight face, defends their chief executive’s salary of $3.1 million? How about publishing the salaries of their entire stable of executives. How many of them earn median Iowa household income? How many earn five, ten, twenty times the average income? The CEO earns sixty-two times median income.

    Pity the poor health insurers. Their costs are going up. Right.

    What my family has done shifts $11,000 of healthcare risk to our annual budget indefinitely. Secondly, it shifts the costs of insuring my children to taxpayers. And who benefits? Wellmark. Because they still receive my monthly check for $348 for paying out absolutely nothing. And with the latest proposed rate increase, they want to charge me $393 for the same pathetic coverage.

    I can only hope that with “Obamacare” those of us in the private market will get some help. As far as I can tell, the Iowa Insurance Division has done NOTHING to reign in the abuses in the private health insurance market. No one speaks for us. No one cares about us. And don’t even think about getting coverage for mental health. Last time when they established “parity” for mental health, the private market was excluded. Gee, I wonder who asked for that loophole?

    Does anyone in this country have any courage to stand up to the corporate Mafia? I’ll believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, I will prepare to pay my 13% rate increase starting in April. (After all, it’s a tradition!) The chance that anyone will do anything to stop it are virtually zero.

    You say the Iowa Insurance Division represents the consumer? Prove it.

    Sincerely,
    Tim Shriver

  319. Anonymous Says:

    It is ashame that the 150,000 or more individual policyholders year end year out take a terrible beating on increases. It does not matter whether a person is in good health or not, the annual increases are typically in double figures for individual policyholders. Yet, for group holders, it is not near what we as individual holders pay. The ecomony surely is not moving at a 12-13% increase in salaries, unless it is the upper management in bonuses, stock options, etc. I have never understood for example, that company A with 500 employess increases are reasonable while a group, yes we are a group of excess of 150,000 have no leverage but just wait to see how much more it is going to cost. I am on medicare, but my wife is not, and I can hardly wait till 2014 when she is. Wellmark has the BULK of individual policies, there simply is no competition, so the end game is the individual policyholders just keep paying and paying. In group policies, there is competition. thanks for your time

  320. Patty Reeve Says:

    Ms. Susan Voss
    Iowa Insurance Commissioner

    Ms. Angel Robinson
    Iowa Insurance Division Consumer Advocate

    Ms. Laura Jackson
    Vice President
    Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield

    I am one of the 150,000 self-employed Iowans who buy their own insurance, who will be affected by the proposed 12-13% rate increase submitted by Wellmark, and who is truly weary of rate increases. My family has been a Wellmark customer for over twenty years and each year we have had to stretch our budget to cover the 8-10% increases that Wellmark has demanded. Nearly every year that has meant a combination of reducing coverage or increasing our deductibles. We are to the point that those are no longer affordable options either. Our monthly premium is now well over $700 and the proposed rate increases will push us to nearly $900 per month.

    At some point, this situation needs to be controlled. No other single facet of our economy has suffered this degree of inflation over the past 20 years. And yet, Wellmark is proposing yet another increase that exceeds the national average of health care cost increases. If the national average of health care cost increases is only 5.8%, why would our increase, here in Iowa, where inflation is generally moderate, increase by double that amount? Is it simply because Wellmark controls 86% of the Iowa market & they can get by with it?
    Wellmark claims that they have been trying to hold down health care cost increases. Here is what I see.
    1. Several years ago, Wellmark rolled out a plan to offer “health coaches” to their customers, free of charge. I tried this program and found it to be a dismal failure and a complete waste of my premium dollars, yet I believe that the program is still operational.
    2. At least twice a year Wellmark produces and mails their Wellmark Blue magazine to all customers. It is a pretty, colored magazine with the same tips and information found in the daily newspaper or a multitude of other publications or online. Again, this is a complete waste of my premium dollars.
    3. And then there were the mailings to persuade us that the premium increases were sensible, inevitable and totally justified. First came the letter informing us of the proposed rate increase, then the pretty postcard mailing printed in color on both sides and oversized so that you couldn’t miss it in the mail. I can only imagine what these two pieces cost in design, marketing, printing and mailing. Notification could have been made in a simple email. Again, a complete waste of premium dollars.
    4. And then there are the corporate sponsorships. According to Wellmark’s own website they proudly sponsor the following events:

    a. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Family SeriesSM
    Announced in 2009, the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Family Series, produced by the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, will provide professional and affordable live theater experiences for all families.
    b. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Field
    Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield Field plays host to thousands of Midwestern arena football fans each spring and summer as the official home of the AF2’s Iowa Barnstormers.
    c. Drake Relays
    Held annually since 1910, the Drake Relays is renowned as one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious track & field meets. Over four days, “America’s Athletic Classic” attracts approximately 40,000 fans and 8,000 athletes.
    d. Sioux Falls Race Against Breast Cancer
    More than 4,500 individuals, including many cancer survivors, their friends and families, participate in this inspiring race that generates more than $200,000 each year to support local cancer patients.

    Healthy Newz 4U Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Iowa Newspaper Foundation and South Dakota Newspaper Association have teamed up to integrate a health and wellness curriculum into Iowa and South Dakota middle schools. Called Healthy Newz 4U, this innovative program includes teacher curriculum, student guides and take-home materials focused on health and wellness topics important to middle school students.
    The program was launched in September 2009, and is delivered to more than 220 school in Iowa and South Dakota four times each school year.

    e. Wellmark hosts Walnut Street School 5th grade health fair

    f. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield will award the efforts of local golf fans with a $10,000 contribution to First Tee of Greater Des Moines. A check to First Tee will be presented at Willow Creek Golf Course on Thursday, June 16 in Des Moines. Wellmark’s “Get Around, Give A Round” initiative provided pedometers to fans at the Principal Charity Classic June 3. Fans were encouraged to get their daily recommended 10,000 steps at the event, and then record their steps at the end of the day. By Wellmark’s partnership with The Principal Charity Classic and its Birdies for Charity program, The First Tee of Greater Des Moines’ financial benefit will be even greater. The First Tee of Greater Des Moines, a non-profit project of The Golf Foundation of Iowa, is located at Grand View Golf Course in Des Moines and managed by the City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department. First Tee promotes character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.

    g. Blue Shield and select Hy-Vee grocery stores have partnered to host free healthy living seminars during the month of November

    h. Wellmark’s 3-Point Play made a donation to the Cedar Falls Recreation Division for each field goal made during the Panthers’ 2011 football season, and each three-point basket during both the men’s and women’s 2011-12 basketball seasons. Nearly $30,000 has been raised through the program to date – with nearly $15,000 raised during the 2011-12 sports seasons.

    i. Wellmark’s 3-Point Play made a donation to the Iowa City Parks and Recreation department for each field goal made during the Hawkeyes’ 2011 football season, and each three-point basket during both the men’s and women’s 2011-12 basketball seasons. In total, $19,390 has been raised through the program to date.

    j. Wellmark’s 3-Point Play made a donation to the Des Moines Parks and Recreation department for each field goal made during the Bulldogs’ 2011 football season, and each three-point basket during both the men’s and women’s 2011-12 basketball seasons. In total, $10,100 has been raised through the program to date.

    k. Wellmark’s 3-Point Play made a donation to the Ames Parks and Recreation department for each field goal made during the Cyclones’ 2011 football season, and each three-point basket during both the men’s and women’s 2011-12 basketball seasons. In total, $21,300 has been raised through the program to date.

    l. Wellmark 80/35 Play In, hosted by Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® and Iowa Public Radio (IPR). Artists from across Iowa can sign up to participate in the statewide battle of the bands competition

    Wellmark has NO BUSINESS using my premium dollars to provide theater experiences to families, or to sponsor a football team, or the Drake Relays or golf outings, or band competitions. These activities are in no way related to health care! As to the Sioux Falls Race, there are many other private organizations that sponsor races to fight cancer. If I want to donate to them, I will, but Wellmark should not coerce additional monthly health care premium out of it’s customers so they can feel like the good corporate citizen by sponsoring such events. It is also not Wellmark’s job to run the health classes offered in schools or the character building programs, or the parks and recreations improvements that benefit from the 3-point play programs. My tax dollars already pay for those things, and I really don’t care to pay twice.

    5. Then there is the Wellmark Foundation. According to the DSM Magazine (November/December/January 2012-13 issue) the Wellmark Foundation has $35 million in assets and gave away over $1.5 million last year. Is this where my premium dollars are going? Into some corporate foundation? $35 million? That is just wrong. IT IS NOT WHAT HEALTH CARE INSURANCE PREMIUMS ARE FOR!

    6. In my opinion, even the Blue Zones project that Wellmark sponsors is suspect. People are going to eat or not eat, exercise or not exercise and engage in healthy activities or not, whether Wellmark preaches to them or not. Again, a complete waste of premium dollars.

    These are just a few of the wasteful programs that I see. There are undoubtedly many more. Wellmark will most likely respond that those things are all paid for out of investment earnings, not my premiums. To which I would ask, where did the investment dollars come from? If there is excess money lying around in investments, it should be used to reduce premiums, and the earnings on it most certainly should be used to reduce premiums. It absolutely should not be used to sponsor pet projects like those listed above.

    Which brings me to the subject of salaries & bonuses. It seems that the chief executive of Wellmark is “worth” over $3 million dollars a year, and that we need to pay him that much to keep good talent. While that is a ridiculous argument (there are many talented people out there who would/could do just as good a job in spending other peoples’ money and raising premiums year after year) I wouldn’t mind paying him a good salary and even a bonus if he was finding ways to REDUCE premiums rather than increasing them over 10% per year.

    Perhaps this is where the answer lies:
    1. Eliminate ALL non-essential, non-health care payments and programs, including all corporate sponsorships, magazines & feel-good publications
    2. Tie ALL executive compensation over a base limit (say $100,000-$200,000 per year) to specific levels of success in reducing monthly/annual health care premiums.

    I WOULD URGE YOU TO DENY ALL PREMIUM INCREASES UNTIL THESE TWO SIMPLE IDEAS, AND THE OTHERS THAT YOU COLLECT AS A RESULT OF THIS HEARING, ARE IMPLEMENTED.

    Then let’s see what we really need to pay for health care insurance, just the insurance, nothing else.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Patty Reeve

  321. Jeff & janet Theulen Says:

    To whom it may concer:

    I am concerned about the proposed health insurance increases that have been proposed for our Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance this coming April. With the prospsed rate increase I may no longer be able to afford any coverage. The national increase is only around 5%. Why are you proposing such a large increase , double digit increases. As I have been reading in the newspaper the wellmark chairman was paid 3.1 million in 2011. If I received that type of salary I would not be as concerned about the increase. But as most Iowans, we are already struggling to make ends meet and live paycheck to paycheck. But we make too much money to qualify for any assistance. Like all of us we make sacrifices. Since you have the monopoly of insurance in Iowa we do not have many alternate choices to compare insurances. New fall maybe we will have a choice with exchanges and maybe lots of your current customers will be leaving this insurance group and going elsewhere. Please reconsider such a steep increase in premiums. Thank you for your time to this matter.

    Janet Theulen

  322. linda hesseltine Says:

    I am writing on behalf of all the poor individual policy holders at Wellmark. In August of last year I had to drop my coverage because of the cost.

    I am a retired person on social security. I am not yet 65 so I can not be on medicare. I lost my job 11 years ago and was unable to find another due to the economy, but for 10 years I fought hard to keep my insurance with Wellmark. The decision had to come down to keeping up with my insurance or having a home to live in. I only get $914 a month social security and was being charged over $500 for insurance. At this price I was not able to make my house payments. I try very hard to keep myself healthy, maybe only going to the doctor twice a year. Paid my medication out of pocket without applying it to the insurance.

    How is any of this fair when the President of Wellmark gets paid over $3 million a year in wages and I could’nt even afford a house payment, health insurance and nothing left over for utility bills or groceries.

    Please give consideration to the people that have to continue with Wellmark and do not grant the increase.

    Cordially,

    Linda Hesseltine

  323. kristine henrickson Says:

    Hello

    I would just like to take a minute to express how upset and disgusted I am at the proposed health insurance increases that Wellmark is asking for. I am sure you are receiving many letters, but hope that you continue to read each and every one.

    Wellmark’s greed should not be tolerated. Your office needs to take action to put a stop to these outrageous increase requests. I do understand slight increases each year, but Wellmark continues to ask for EXTREME increases while paying their chairman a sickening amount while the rest of us “make do” and “look for ways to save”.

    My husband and I are both teachers. We could not afford the family insurance price that our schools offered when we had children so we searched for something else. When our son was born in 2001, we opted for an individual child’s policy for $65 a month. We had a $100 deductible and 10% copay. Fast forward to 2013 and we are now paying $160.00 a month, had to increase our deductible and our copay just to keep it from going any higher than this. In 11 years our insurance has increased 150%. Had we not increased our deductible and copay, it would have been almost an almost 230% increase!!! We also had another child in 2003. So we pay roughly $320 a month for both of them. I am sure that doesn’t sound like a lot to you, but it does take a bite out of paychecks each month. These children have not been hospitalized since they were born, have had no major surgeries (only surgery has been ear tubes), and visit the doctor a couple times a year for a sore throat/ear infection or well child visits. I am beginning to think we would be better off with no insurance and just paying for those visits once or twice a year, but as responsible adults we keep our insurance “just in case”. It seems extremely unfair to be paying such increases when we are not abusing the system. Wellmark controls everything and we have so few choices for change. Our salaries only go up 3% a year if our school districts can afford to do that with all their cuts. With the cost of living, we just keep taking home less and less.

    In conclusion, I am just asking that you please be reasonable in the increases that Wellmark is asking for.

    Thank you for your time,
    Kristine Henrickson

  324. Bob Hopson Says:

    How many policy forms ( with differing benefits ) are we talking about for these individual insured’s, 1 or more than 1?
    If just 1, why can’t there be more than 1 with varying benefits, deductibles, and/or co-pays where the buyer can buy something that more fits their individual needs and budget?
    Bob Hopson

  325. Di Findley Says:

    Dear Commissioner Voss:
    I am a director of a small nonprofit with only two full time employees. We operate on a shoestring budget and ironically serve low income workers who often lack access to affordable care.
    I pay 100% of my health insurance. I am 64 years old and have worked for the organization for 20 years. I am one of the 150,000 facing yet another rate increase proposed by Wellmark..
    These are the monthly rates I have paid out of pocket since 2008
    2008 = $385
    2009 = $415
    2010 = $508.80
    2011 = $680.20
    2012 = $736.50
    2013 = (if the proposed rate increase is approved = 12.5% increase $828.56
    I am generally in good health and don’t have serious chronic health problems.
    I can assure you that my income has not incresaed by over 100% since 2008.
    I urge you to deny Wellmark’s request to increase rates on those of us who are already forced to pay a higher rate because our employers do not quality for a group plan or don’t have the resources to provide much in the way of benefits.
    Thank you for yoru consideration.
    Di Findley

  326. Di Findley Says:

    Dear Insurance Commissioner,

    This is an addendum to my previously submitted email regarding Wellmark’s propsoed rate increases. They are sponsoring the Blue Zones project using profits from people like me. I understand the need to promote healthy life styles and preventive care, and I am sure they will meet with some success with some of the grants they are providing.

    However, as a consumer I would prefer that those profits be used to keep the rates of policy holders like myself down. In other words, we as consumers am paying for the grants that Wellmark is awarding to organizations of their choice to work on healthy state initiatives. It’s political and it is unfair.

    Thanks!

  327. Kathleen Mindrup Says:

    Dear Commissioner:

    I, as a policy holder/customer of Wellmark Blue Cross, strongly object to the proposed increase. I was forced to purchase my own insurance 3 years ago when my employer dropped coverage. My premium started out @ $279.00 and is now $399.00 and will be over $440.00 should this increase be allowed.

    I am soon to be 63, live in house that is decreased in value due to the economy so therefore cannot sell it as I owe more than it is worth. My home insurance increased by over $100.00 a year and now my payroll taxes are to increase. I, for one, cannot afford this proposed increase and do not feel it is warranted.

    I ask the commissioner to not allow this increase for myself and the other thousands of people insured by Wellmark.

    Sincerely,

    Kathleen Mindrup

  328. Steven Hull Says:

    Dear Commissioner Susan Voss:

    I write in opposition to the Wellmark proposed rate increase.

    While I understand the Department’s obligation to ensure Iowan’s of thefinancial soundness, and ability of the insurance compnay to meet its obligations under its contractual obligations, I do not believe the rate increase is appropriate at this time.

    In recent years, we’ve read in the Register about the high compensation of top Wellmark executives, and profits made by the giant insurer.

    It seems in times of osterity, increasing the costs of health care to consumers is an important consideration. I read that healthcare “inflation”
    is down, somewhere around 3.4%. Wages are not keeping up with even that rate of inflation.

    My parents are buying Wellmark Secondary Medicare Insurance from Wellmark.
    The SSA benefit increase based on inflation for 2013 was announced at 1.7%.

    I encourage you to take a close look at the current Wellmark rate increase request. Please make a balanced evaluation: we do want our insurers to survive and continue to pay claims.

    But I am also aware that big insurers get substantial discounts from healthcare providers. My parents report that Medicare claims are routinely reduced 50% before Wellmark pays its small portion of the Medicare deductible.

    I realize that these increases apply to small business owners and individuals relying on Wellmark for primary insurance, and increases will pose a significant ecomonic burden to these consumers. There is a public interest in making medical insurance widely available. During this economic recession, please be aware how these increases will impact public interests served my making health insurance widely available by making it affordable.

    The Register’s Front Page article on the subject of this increase request, January 4, noted “obesity” as a reason for increased healthcare premium increases. While this may be true, it seems unfair to cite one healthcare risk factor. In fact, many federal studies available from Senator Harkin
    blame obesity in the US on factors beyond the individual’s personal choice.
    A lot of the obesity problem can be traced to federal farm policy, as well as to poverty; it seems doubly cruel to burden the individual with the consequences of poverty and federal policies.

    While it may seem that this unfairness also applies to insurers, the insurer underwrites, and understands the risks it assumes as a part of doing business. Since it is your obligation to ensure the solvency of insurers, it is also true that stockholders and management are responsible for their bad choices.

    Likewise, the economic recession is adversely affecting investment returns, which is a large part of insurance comany income. But the consumer should not be made fully resposible for ill advised investments, or disappointing investment returns. Some of this lack of performance should be the burden of stockholders and management, which the Register reports have been self-awarded substaintial bonuses in recent years while the wages of consumers has remained flat for more than 20 years.

    I encourage you to carefully consider the Wellmark rate increase, and balance the interests of consumers.

    Thank you for your attention to this important matter that affects so many.
    The availability of insurance is critical, solvency is essential, but affordability is also one of your important considerations.

    Please emphasize “affordability” in your analysis this year, with regard to the Wellmark rate increase request.

  329. Suzan Kelsey Brooks Says:

    Once again, Blue Cross is demanding another rate increase–of 12 to 13%.
    Once again, Blue Cross is demanding this increase be borne ONLY by individual policy holders.
    Once again, group insurance holders are being spared, because there is COMPETITION in Iowa for the business of group insurance holders.
    The State of Iowa continues to allow insurance companies to sell group insurance, even if they don’t sell individual policies, thus assuring that Blue Cross will have little or no competition.
    I have been paying for individual insurance since 2001. My premiums started out at $350/month for comprehensive coverage. I had to reduce coverage when premiums reached $900+. Now I pay @$585+/month for ONE person. I do not have diabetes or other chronic diseases. What I have is the misfortune to live in Iowa, a state where BC/BS enjoys a near monopoly on individual coverage for persons who pay their own premiums; a state where BC/BS’s CEO gets over $3 million a year; a state where BC/BS chooses to soak individuals in order to maintain a competitive rate for the area of business where they have some competition; a state where BC/BS has hired former governors, who appoint insurance commissioners and–most recently–complain they haven’t had time to create an insurance health exchange, in compliance with the Affordable Care Act.
    Shame on Iowa. Shame on you for continuing to earn a handsome living and pension (health insurance provided) at the expense of those least able to fight. If Blue Cross/Blue Shield is so burdened by the rising cost of health care, let them raise EVERYONE’s premiums–group and individual alike–and lower Mr. Forsythe’s salary.

    Please don’t tell me to attend Saturday’s “public forum”. The last time, neither Blue Cross nor the Insurance Division bothered to send a representative. This is the level of contempt with which you treat the
    individual health insurance policy holders of Iowa. Your message is clear:
    “Pay or die; we couldn’t care less”.

  330. Virginia Kostes Says:

    My husband and I are self employed and we are paying $ 1145.00 per month for our insurance with wellmark blue cross. They are proposing a 12 – 13 percent rate increase . We can’t afford any more increases . If the rates keep going up we will have to cancel and I guess go on title nineteen for any health needs. I am a diabetic which I really need to keep my insurance but I don’t know how much more we can take with the increases. I feel the insurance companies have us over a barrel. I have one medicine that is
    349.79 a month and that is with insurance co-pay. We are just regular people trying to keep our heads out of water. Please try to do something for us working people trying todo the right hing instead of depending on the state to take care of us like so many younger people Do. We are in our late 50’s.
    Thank you for listening to me,
    Virginia kostes

  331. Robert and Marylou Rosekamp Says:

    We are contacting you to ask that the insurance commission deny the request of the above subject company’s plans to raise rates again. We are living on
    $2000.00 a month income and already my husband’s insurance costs are over $550.00, we must have insurance for him due to his having had a kidney transplant and if he can’t have insurance at a decent amount we will not be able to afford his doctor’s visits, medications to keep him alive. It is unreal that the government and now the insurance companies are “bleeding” the poor people even poorer with all these increases to help themselves and not the American people who need help. Please do not let the insurance companies continue to raise rates. It’s time to put the skids on their greediness to make themselves richer and us poorer. Thank you for reading this.

  332. Kevin Kane Says:

    Reason for Complaint: I object to the rate increase requested by Wellmark.
    Even as a long-time policy holder and provider of Wellmark health insurance for my employees, I was not informed of the “public hearing” set for today, January 5, 2013. I had to read about it my local newspaper. I am a health care provider (dentist) and there is no way I can raise my fees the way Wellmark proposes and has for each of the last several years.

  333. Beverly Hart Says:

    Reason for Complaint: Please do not allow Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield to raise premiums again by the amount they have planned. My income goes down every year due to the increase in Medicare insurance, and my insurance premiums keep going up. I find it very difficult to make ends meet as it is.
    Thank you for your consideration.

  334. Elaine Gardner Says:

    Increases in premium proposal above what would be a normal expectation. This is not ethically appropriate; what needs to be done is a overhaul/examination of the expenses in this company.
    Dr. Elaine Gardner

  335. Mark Scherer Says:

    Laura Jackson said that other factors ‘including obesity, rising drug prices continue to push up health care costs.’ Now I will agree with her on that statement, but the fact is those issues affect all Iowans, not just the individual policy holders. We have been taking the ‘hit’ for all Iowans for seveal years now. That is unjust. Another fact is that it does not cost anymore or anyless to process a claim by an individual versus a group policy holder. I know many individual policy holders and because we know what the true cost of insurance is we do everything we can to stay healthy. I looked on the internet for a study to confirm that individual policy holders are healthier overall than group policy holders but could not find one. But believe me when I tell you that we individual owners implemented the ideas in the Blue Zone project long before Wellmark started it. Did Wellmark give you any data on this?, I would dout it as it would kill their request.

    It also saddens me that nearly 60% to 70% of our premium go toward their work to deny claims. Granted they are acting as the gatekeeper to some extent but it would be cheaper to pay those bills rather than fight all of them. That is not right. What they really need to do is to put out a list of where to go for specific health care options. For example the cost for identical MRI’s in Des Moines can vary buy up to $3000 (Kidney stone) for the same proceedure. Unless you know where to go an insured will pay out of pocket way more than is needed from his deductible and the insurance company will also pay more or have to fight with the doctor to reduce the bill. This is a big waste of money and time. We as consumers need to know in advance where to get good medical care at the most reasonable cost. That is what Wellmark should be working on, an Angies list of sorts for medical care. There Blue Zone project is not even directed towards individual policy holders. I have been one of their insured for years and have never even heard of it before this meeting. It must be directed at group policy holders, and they want us individual policy holders to pay more for this benefit to group holders also? A person would have to live in a cave with no contact to the outside world not to be aware that there are healthy habits an bad health habits. I do not see the direct benefits of their program, especially since I had never heard of it before now. Another waste?

    It is high time to deny this request and have them put the burden of any increase on the executives and group policy holders. It is because of their dominance in the Iowa market and bullying attitude that I look forward to the new insurance exchanges that should come with the new health care law. There are ten other high rated companies out there that will bring some needed competition to Iowa.

    Mark Scherer

  336. Andrea Nus Says:

    Dear Sir or Madaam:

    I am concerned with the proposed rate increase of 12-13% in 2013.
    My husband and I are covered through BC/BS via his place of work. We used to have incredible health and prescription benefits through our prior employer via United Healthcare. During that coverage I was diagnosed with a chronic illness that required a prescription that out-of-pocket would have cost $900/month. Thanks to my coverage I had to pay $75, which even then was still a struggle for me to cover in addition to the numerous co-pays.

    Now we are covered under BC/BS, we have the highest deductible ($5,000). Thankfully, at this point in time we have no health concerns. I am more restrictive however, and avoid going to the chiropractor as often as I would like or need. I find alternatives to going to the doctor (using over-the-counter meds, home remedies, etc.) Recently, I thought I might be showing signs of the return of the illness and experienced great anxiety at the thought of having to pay $900/month for a prescription, the cost of a biopsy, etc. until we met our deductible. This would put us in financial ruin to accumulate $5000 worth of meds and treatment in less than 6 months time. The coverage only goes so far…

    I feel if rates continue to increase with no visible benefit as a consumer, we will eventually take our chances and go without insurance all together.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Andrea Nus

  337. Doug Lemon Says:

    Consumer Advocate,
    I find the proposed premium increase proposed by Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Iowa to be completely out of line compared to the CPI Index, the increase in average income and any measure of the median income affordability standards.
    In fact, the Cedar Rapids Gazette recently published a statistic I find incomprehensible – “a full-time worker in Iowa making the median state wage needed to work for 10 weeks to pay a family health insurance premium in 1999. By 2011, the number of weeks’ paychecks needed to cover a family health insurance premium had risen to nearly 25 weeks”. When a wage earner, making median income in Iowa, has to work 6 months out of the year to pay for their health insurance, it is time to stop the obnoxious runaway costs.
    I’m sure Wellmark will lay the blame on the cost of medical care – and to a great extent that challenge is Wellmark’s job. An equally important issue surrounds Wellmark’s cost containment. A case in point – just recently Wellmark moved into a new, first class office space in Cedar Rapids. Is this truly necessary? What customers are they trying to impress? The extravagant office environment is not a necessity. Maybe the elegant lifestyle provided the executives and their employees should be addressed. I’m sure, many other cost cutting measures can be found – my example is only 1 of many.
    I ask that you set a precedent and deny this absurd request.

    Thank you,

    Doug Lemon
    Wellmark Insured

  338. marty Riley Says:

    After reading the article in this Sunday’s Des Moines Register, I felt I had to add my voice to the mix. I am a retired teacher, and I pay 100% of my medical insurance since I am only 60. My husband is a self-employed contractor, so we also pay 100% of his insurance. For the month, we pay $836.64. We are both on Wellmark, so a 13% increase raises that amount to $945.40. This seems insane to me with what this company has spent on new buildings, administrative salaries, etc. I cannot believe that they can’t find some cost-cutting measures to implement within the company to hold down costs and not pass on these exorbitant rate increases to their customers. I am now a cleaning lady just to earn enough money to pay for our medical insurance. Oh, well, when my knees have to be replaced, I guess Wellmark can pay for that, but I expect by that time they will find a way to deny coverage to me.

    Thanks for listening.

    Marty Riley

  339. Anonymous Says:

    They are taking our insurance premiums and spending it on other things besides health. The sponsor events and charities. You need take care of the people first. Lets start at the top of the salary with the over 3million the CEO makes. We don’t have that much in social security.

  340. David Witke Says:

    First, let’s have an internal-efficiency audit by a trustworthy authority.

  341. Thomas Wessman Says:

    This is the first time I have asked the government to help the people who are paying for their own insurance. We can not afford a yearly increase of that amount. And what makes me the most mad is a chairman getting 3 million dollars a year salary. What is going on?

    Thomas Wessman

  342. Terry Says:

    Considering the amount of monies Wellmark allocates to “retained earnings and dividends” I find this annual, double digit rate increase ludicrous. When also considering executive salaries and bonuses, the adjective changes to abhorrent.

    To suggest that healthcare providers are now charging 13% more than last year is ridiculous. Or to suggest these same healthcare providers will be charging 13% more next year is even more ridiculous.

    Why are employer provided plans not increasing at the same rate as individual plans? Is there a perception that employer covered participants are more healthy than those who must carry individual plans? I think it’s more likely that the path if least resistance is the individual policy holders.

    Does the annual advertising budget generate enough new policies to pay for the advertising? Do executive bonus’ provide better healthcare, control costs or improve service to policy holders?

    Considering it’s growing assets and reserves, does Wellmark really need ANOTHER DOUBLE DIGIT RATE INCREASE?

    Wellmark may follow “generally accepted practices” when requesting a rate increase, but that doesn’t mean the request is within reason!

    Rather than rely upon Wellmark provided numbers, actuaries should be looking at changes in the billings from hospitals, doctors and pharmacists to determine the “NEED” for a 13% AVERAGE INCREASE. Individual policy increases should be no greater than those approved for group (employer provided) policies.

    Iowa insurance regulators have let the industry run amok for to many years. It’s time they deny any increase that is not tied directly to monies paid out to healthcare providers for prevention or treatment.

  343. Linda Slycord Says:

    I feel I have repeated this protest for the past three years and landed on deaf ears but at some point reason has to prevail.

    The current proposed rate increase is an injustice to those of us with individual health plans. I have a plan with the maximum out of pocket cost and highest deductible of $5000. Most years I haven’t been submitted a claim. But now that I’ve had cancer, i can’t change plans and each year I start by paying $5000 and premiums keep rising to levels that are putting my in debt. The hospital and doctors accept payments but the insurance company takes its full share every month.

    I am a very involved consumer and carefully monitor all the health care charges. There isn’t anything else I can do to reduce the costs. Wellmark continues to pay it’s executives excessive salaries (and I don’t support the competitive survey information they use – take a look at comparable State positions!). How can they accept bonuses and increased perks when the policyholders are told they are not making money?

    Pleases listen to this plea for reason and use common sense. Limit the rate increase. They collect good interest rates on the Wellmark investments because of the size of their pool. Use the reserves of off set costs and not pay increases to executives who don’t limit spending.

    Linda Slycord
    West Des Moines

  344. Diane Hunter Says:

    I pay my daughter’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health insurance. She has an undergraduate degree in English and a Master’s degree in library science, but she is unable to find a job with any health benefits. When the cost of her policy was more than our house payment, she insisted that we drop down to the Silver coverage. Of course this excludes pregnancy coverage. Her husband also has his Master’s degree but is part-time in his field, so no coverage in his job either. He has no health insurance. I will not let my daughter be without health coverage. This is especially important for every woman.

    I started out paying $372.25 in 2009. Then it became $434.15. 2012 brought a bill of $525.05. According to my figures, a rate increase of 12% will result in a monthly bill of $588. We are now on fixed incomes. This is a real hardship for us and others. Even the usual 7-8% annual increase is too much.

    Thank you for providing the forum for my response to this proposal.

    Diane Hunter

  345. Dennis & Carolyn White Says:

    I want to express my opposition to the proposed rate hike. We live on a fixed income, which has not increased for the past few years. This year’s Social Security raise is diminished to $5.00 per month by the increase in Medicare. Our insurance rates have already increased considerably the past few years. I do not understand why Wellmark feels the need to increase our rates when their CEO is being paid $3.1 million per year. I imagine many others in their company have also received considerable salary increases.
    We appreciate the good coverage we have received from Wellmark, but we, along with many others, cannot afford to continue their coverage if rates are raised.
    We already are the recipients of several tax increases, which is not related to Wellmark, but since we have already incurred insurance rate increases the past few years, it seems unnecessary to raise them again.
    Please consider this problem when making your decision.
    Sincerely,
    Carolyn White

  346. Richard Kaiser Says:

    I am very concerned about the proposed increases. I do understand cost are rising. My wife & I are on a state program with BC & BS since we were turned down for insurance several years ago. When the last increase came about I called about raising my deductible. But we are only allowed the present $1000 deductible. We are paying $1,179 a month now. The proposed increase will put us up over $16,000 a year fro insurance.

    Richard Kaiser

  347. Ken Wallace Says:

    Dear Ms. Voss,

    I am a person who holds an individual health policy from Wellmark that they have proposed for another increase in premiums. I believe their yearly increases for those of us who have to purchase our own health insurance has been excessive and puts a great financial burden on many of us. Please consider not granting them the increase they have requested. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Rev. Ken Wallace
    Urbandale, Iowa

  348. Martha Norbeck Says:

    I am small business owner. We have two employees. We have no avenue for acquiring health insurance other than the individual market. Wellmark dominates this market in Iowa. We have very little choice. The proposed increase of 12-13% far outstrips actual increases in healthcare costs in the 3-5% range. This burden takes advantage of the most vulnerable and hampers the growth of small businesses like mine.

    To control costs, we will have to increase our deductable again. If either of us has a health care emergency which requires us to pay our entire deductible, I may have to close my doors. These annual increases of 8.5%, 9.4%, 12% during a recessions are outrageous. We can’t bear this burden.

    Commissioner, oppose these outsized rate increases. This hurts my business. If Wellmark is concerned about abuse of preventative tests and obesity, then they need to step up and do something about that, not just charge more. Their online tool for wellness with platitudes about walking your dog more are woefully insufficient attempts at disease and obesity prevention. Pressure Wellmark to take responsibility for their fiscal house, not just pass on the cost of irresponsible policies and pay raises to individuals.
    Martha Norbeck, AIA, LEED AP

  349. Martha McCormick Says:

    I am writing about the proposed premium increase. I understand that some increase must be given but the % is too high. Each year it goes up by too much. The CEOs’ and “higher-ups” surely do not NEED those kind of saleries. We are just regular people struggely to get by and they have millians!!!!!!!!! Please lower the increase that Wellmark is asking for cause next year it will be the same. Thanks for your time. Martha McCormick

  350. The Fox Says:

    I cannot afford another increase… if it does happen, I will probably HAVE to quit BC/BS and go without health insurance all together. if they just stopped sending out those expensive mailings they could save a bunch of money.

  351. Denise Strathdee Says:

    My husband and I are self- insured under this plan. In the 1 year we have had the plan, we have already had 1 premium increase. We are healthy people who practice healthy lifestyle habits – we do not smoke, manage our weight, eat healthfully and exercise regularly. We do not believe we should be penalized for thiose who choose unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. I would recommend instituting a tiered premium system which takes into account lifestyle habits as well as plan usage.

    Thank you.

    Denise Strathdee

  352. Dennis Tesdell Says:

    Hello;

    I am on a disability and could not attend the recent public meeting between Wellmark and the insurance commissioner and policy holders. I was told by one of the attendees I could send my remarks to this email address; a woman named Angel I believe.

    I wanted to state for the record that I am barely making my home and basic bill payments now. If Wellmark gets the increase in premiums they are requesting the only thing in my budget I can find to cut back on is either food or prescription drugs. I cannot do without utilities and other basics. I won’t get into the other reasons I think the increase is not fair at this point in time after several years in a row that I believe Wellmark has had approved despite outcry from policy holders and others.

    In 2014, when the healthcare laws kick in more, (things like the ability to “shop around” and “pre-existing conditions” no longer being an issue for coverage), I think Wellmark will wish they had figured something else out with their policy holders or other options, versus raising rates again this year. If they think they are “losing money” now, they will lose considerably more as their policy holders switch healthcare providers in droves.

    Thank you,

    Dennis

  353. Susan Clifford Says:

    Please oppose Wellmark rate increase

    To whom it may concern:

    I am emailing to ask that you not allow Wellmark to raise their rates. This proposed rate increase is offensive.

    I already pay well over $400 dollars per month for an individual policy. I take Lipitor, and my rates were based on that. Lipitor came out with a generic this year, and the full cost went from $188.99 to $67.99. Wellmark refused to reduce their premiums to reflect that change. On top of that, they want more money! I could save a lot of money by just paying for my own medical bills instead of paying insurance premiums. Instead I do the responsible thing and keep paying for insurance, because illnesses and accidents can happen.

    I ask that you do not allow Wellmark to raise their rates. Their rates are already ridiculously high. It is sickening that they always go after the individual policy holders. And they don’t update their rates based on a huge cost savings they realize from generic drugs becoming available.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter.

    Susan Clifford

  354. Ronald Marks Says:

    Here are a few abbreviated suggestions I would like you to consider before a decision is made in regards to Wellmark’s request for a rate hike on individual policy holders.

    1. Ask the firm to practice budgetary restraint. Do not pay exorbitant claims from service providers.
    a. Freeze premium rates and cut internal expenses.
    b. Allow customer to pay for a level of care that takes into account a wide range of deductible choices.

    2. When providers submit claims, have them enclose audit information. Then sort out providers with the biggest overhead expense/profit margins and pay them a lower reimbursement for services conducted.

    Also, single out the patients with the most/largest claims and require a larger co-pay, or that they pay a surcharge on forthcoming premium renewals. (see 1.b.)

    3. Charge higher premiums for coverage that is considered “elective”.

    4. Propose that the insurance carrier restructure to limit it’s size. Allow the company to form subsidiaries to perform “mutual operations”– where shareholders are the policy holders. They can help decide what rates to charge.

    5. Encourage a proportionate reduction of dividends going to shareholders.

    6. When large claims are submitted, have carrier pay a portion of them in “promissory notes”– collectible from future profits of the insurance company.

    7. Develop the concept of “health insurance tax credits” for those individuals buying their own coverage. Collaborate with state officials to tap into alcohol/cigarette/gambling revenues to offset the cost of the credits.

    In closing, I would say that any increase in rates should not go beyond 4-5%– view national averages.

    Sincerely,

    Ronald F. Marks

    Milford, IA 51351

  355. Andriette Wickstrom Says:

    Subject: Wellmark Proposed Increases
    It is totally obscene that the Iowa Insurance Commissioner is even considering allowing another massive increase
    in premiums by Wellmark. I have often heard complaints that the commission exists to support the insurance industry, not the citizens of this state. Also it is amusing that Wellmark Vice President, Laura Jackson, said that the company is “trying” to hold down cost increases for health care. Instead of just “trying,” maybe they should actually do something about it. They could start by looking at their high administrative costs.

    I totally agree with consumer, Lin Sorenson, who had the courage to speak up about the outrageous 1.3 million annual salary of company CEO, John Forsyth. I have not yet had the opportunity to meet the man, and I doubt that he would have time for “scum” like me, but I would think that if he possessed any conscience at all, he would not be so selfish in demanding such excessive compensation when many of his customers are struggling to buy groceries and also afford paying high insurance premiums.

    (As a side note, it is interesting that the latest edition of Scientific American Mind (January/February 2013) highlighted a recent British study on psychopathy in which “CEO” is listed as the most psychopathic profession.
    For more details on the subject, I would recommend reading Without a Conscience and/or Snakes in Suits by psychopathy expert, Dr. Robert Hare.)

    I am also skeptical about Wellmark’s involvement with the Blue Zones project, which is probably just a total PR scam by a company that is “trying” to hold down costs. It is very annoying that they think spending money in a few select communities is fair to their customers who reside outside of those chosen areas. They may justify this with imaginary motives of “trying” to encourage a small number of Iowans they deem worthy of their consideration to adopt healthier habits, however, I question their ability to do so in an economical way. A couple years ago I attended one of their informative meetings held around the state in which they spent excessive time and money introducing their sponsorship of the Blue Zones project. Many of their staff members were on hand passing out extremely expensive glossy colored brochures and they had brought in a keynote speaker from California, Dan Buettner, author of the Blue Zones book to tell the audience information we already knew and also present a few bogus “facts” we did not need to hear.

    I hope that Susan Voss makes the moral choice to NOT allow Wellmark to increase premiums AGAIN, and she should also keep in mind that actuaries and statisticians can always skew data to get the results they desire. (Trust me – I have several family members in such occupations.)

    Sincerely,
    Andriette Wickstrom

    P.S. As a Wellmark customer, I am very offended that they intend to punish me for being part of the obesity problem.

  356. John Rigter Says:

    My husband & I have been policy holders of BCBS since April of 1995. This policy was at that time available through my husband’s job. It continued until 2002 when he lost his job do to a life changing, dibilitating illness. For the next 3 years, he paid premiums through the state run Iowa health program for individuals that was not available to those with pre existing conditions. In 2005 he was finally given SS Disability. I have been paying BCBS premiums since 2003 on my own. My small business employer does not offer any health coverage.

    Year after Year, we, as well as every other individual has seen an increase in our premiums & it need’s to be STOPPED!

    Every 3 months when our premium is due, I have to make a choice after paying BCBS, whether to pay to keep my house warm, or buy groceries. I find that in a nutshell a travisty!

    My husband and I do not drink, smoke, & we are not obsese. He was born with a rare disease that does not show up until later in life. After our 1st visit to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN it is documented that his illness can possibly happen to 3 in 1 million people a year. As of 1978 Mayo clinic has seen 78 cases, & my husband was number #78. He has what is called Churg Strauss Syndrome.

    People do NOT ask to be ill. He would love to have a normal day without pain, medication, just to keep him going, & to stay alive!

    After reading this week’s Des Moines Sunday register’s article I find it hard for me to feel sorry for V.P. Laura Jackson. I’m of the opinion her sympathy explanation does not set well with the BCBS policy holder’s. She may have grown up uninsured, but she’s not uninsured today. I also doubt that Chairman John Forsyth with his 3.1 million salary could give a rip less also. They’re word’s do not mean much to the working policy holders that have BCBS.

    It lies on you’re shoulder’s now, and SHAME ON YOU if you allow this increase to continue. You do the same year after year. Just a question? How much does Wellmark pad your pocket’s each year with so you will allow this to continue? I’m betting plenty!!

    If these increases continue year after year, to keep my husband alive, it will come down to getting a divorce, so that he can qualify for Medicaid. How sad is that????

    Do something different for a change and tell Wellmark NO!

    Sandy Rigter
    Williams, IA 50271

  357. Rachel Deets Says:

    I am writing because I strongly feel that the latest increase in BlueCross BlueShield is uncalled for and will only make the economy worse. I am a 31 year old mother whose battle with a rare disease still continues on and would prefer not having to also battle the insurance company that has helped save her life and hopefully her daughters as well.

    I have had insurance through said insurance company my entire life and just over the last 4 years my premiums have more than doubled yet the cost of living has not. Despite the fact that I spent my entire life eating healthy(I was the first elementary student to ever receive skim milk and started Mason City School on giving the children the option), exercising daily and only taking medication in extreme cases I was diagnosed with a very rare disease called Carney’s Complex in 2001. Carney’s Complex is a serious disease which causes benign tumors in the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, heart, breasts and can cause ovarian cancer. I have had every manifestation of this disease happen to me except the ovarian cancer.
    My first symptom of this disease resulted in the loss of life-sustaining organs, my adrenal glands, by way of surgical removal(bilateral adrenalectomy) due to micronodular tumors throughout both adrenals which left me dependent on the use of steroids. Considering my steroid levels were 8 times the normal amount by the time my adrenal tumors were discovered, it was no wonder I was experiencing what seemed like menopause symptoms at as young as 14 years old. I had absense of menses, hot flashes, cold sweats, frequent urination, excruciating breast pain, water retention in face and fat pads accumulating on my chest and back. My torso avoided the usual obese abdomen due to my feeling it necessary to do one thousand crunches daily. In addition. I did an hour of cardio on my exercise bike averaging 40 miles/day, every day without missing a day. I ate low-fat/cholesterol free diet and counted calories despite my wasted away arms and legs due to my cholesterol testing high after years of carefully watching of my diet. By the time they finally discovered my Cushings Syndrome, I had not slept for about 4 years, hadn’t experienced a period but test positive for a pregnancy test despite my mentality being that of a 13 year old and never even dated a boy and literally thought I was the next Virgin Mary due to the feeling my tummy would get fat without my doing thousand crunches daily and lack of menses. Despite my body appearing to others like that of an anorexic, I was eating every waking moment of the day and was constantly hungry. I ate constantly throughout the day and still managed to get up 4-5 times each night to eat more and once an hour to urinate. My mother finally brought up her concerns with my issues to a local doctor for the last time after many failed attempts, whom didn’t take my case seriously so she forced them to refer me to the Mayo Clinic after she looked up my symptoms on the internet and diagnosed me herself with either a pituitary tumor or Cushing’s Syndrome. After four years of experiencing all the hellish problems that come with Cushing’s Syndrome all through my high school career, I couldn’t help but be thankful for my first diagnosis while my parents were fearing for my life.

    Unfortunately, the surgical removal of my adrenal glands didn’t result in all the negative side affects subsiding, in fact, my body had another plan for me. It was finally recommended by my mother I get an MRI done on my pituitary to check for a tumor because my continued symptoms coincided with that of a pituitary tumor. After convincing my endocrinologist to perform the MRI, despite the fact he said that would be extremely rare, the test proved my mother’s intuition correct. Neurosurgery was the only solution to remove the benign tumor off my pituitary due to growth hormone being elevated as well as prolactin, Surgical removal was chosen in order to prevent growth and pressure on my brain but the solution lead to more problems down the road.

    After my surgery I began sleeping all the time and my mind running a mile a minute. My excessive sleep was being blamed on my body’s inability to sleep the four years prior but after two years of that being the excuse, I started falling asleep while driving. I expressed my concern with the facts that I could no longer follow along with literature for my college courses, keep my eyes open through a single class, and most importantly stay awake while driving. Mayo clinic completed diagnostic testing to evaluate me for learning disorders and sleeping disorders. Not much to my surprise, I was found to have ADD the innatentive type and idiopathic hypersomnia. The doctor who diagnosed my sleeping disorder speculated that when my neurosurgery was performed the surgeon most likely had a fellow do the surgery and in that case it is very common for them to have knicked something and caused both my ADD and idiopathic hypersomnia. Especially considering the abruptness that these problems arose at the exact time of post-op after my transphennoidal adenomectomy. Their solution was the use of ritalin which has proven effective.

    Believe it or not, the sleeping and learning disorders were not the only ‘gifts’ the surgery left me with. I also began to experience problems with breathing through my nose. Due to the fact that my second operation had been routed through my left nostil to avoid a much more invasive procedure, my septum had not properly been reset and healed. The reality of the situation was that my septum was actually blocking one of my nostrils. I had to get that repaired years later due to other complications that arose throughout the years. Bloody noses were one of the most problematic issues I dealt with because of the placement and even though a bloody nose doesn’t seem that detrimental, bloody noses that result in the loss of at least 8 fluid ounces each time,on a regulary basis, are a bit more frightening AND embarrassing especially when silver nitrating results in the opposite affect than expected. At that point, I suffered permanent damage to my septum by the hole that silver nitrated created, and I still have a hole in my septum and experience minor bloody noses and clotting on a regular basis to the point that they interfere with my daily life.

    At the point at which they discovered my pituitary tumor, I was officially diagnosed with Carney’s Complex and considered a mutant which I wish had been the truth due to the fact that nobody else in my family had experienced any of the other manifestations I had. Due to this diagnosis, my doctor decided to begin monitoring my heart to avoid the potential risk of death caused by cardiac myxomas if they go undiscovered. From that year on they began the painful task of administering echocardiograms annually to prevent the only known cause of death my disease had been known to have thus far. Since I personally felt the echocardiograms were unneccesary and found them painfully uncomfortable and embarrassing I hadn’t even realized when more than two years had passed without one being administered because I had given birth to a precious baby girl and life had gotten busy. Upon the scheduling of another necessary surgery, my endocrinologist felt it necessary to first schedule my annual brain MRI, echocardiogram, and bloodwork. Much to our dismay and surprise, since I was running 3 miles a day without difficulty up till that day, a heart tumor was found. This first cardiac myxoma I was informed of required immediate surgical removal because it growing on a stalk and the movement of blood posed as a threat that pieces may fly off resulting in a stroke or aneurism. That cardiac myxoma was discovered on a Monday and surgery had been completed to resect that tumor that Friday. Believe it or not, before/ at/immediately after my time of surgery and postop not a word was mentioned to me about a 2nd tumor that had been discovered in my heart while I was pregnant with my daughter until I was being cleared once again to have that other surgery. Just as I had healed from open heart surgery imaging found a “shadow” on the wall of my heart and when I asked my doctor what he meant, he simply stated, “remember that tumor we found when you were pregnant?” I informed him I had never been told of any such tumor. So to this day I still have a second tumor in my heart that will eventually necessitate a second open heart surgery. I am hoping that open hearth surgery will never be necessary again. My memory from being on the bypass machine has been affected greatly and I have no sense of time anymore or recollection of large portions of my life. The short term memory has been more greatly effected but only close family members are made to be aware of that.

    The surgery that lead to the discovery of my heart tumor and last three surgeries were all to put an end to my excrutiating breast pain I had endured for over a decade and been too embarrassed to talk about. Upon request by me to my local doctor to do a breast exam, he mentioned to me that I may want to consider a bilateral mastectomy. Unlike most females in their twenties, I was ecstatic to hear such a recommendation. I was so embarrassed about my the pain my breasts caused me that I had been put on numerous medications for anxiety because I termed my pain as “chest” instead of “breast” and wondered why the anxiety meds had not helped. Little did I know I had over 250 tumors in each breast that were causing the pain that I can only describe as being electricuted over and over again. By this time, I was happy to just have those painful things lopped off and forgotten about. My parents were wise enough to talk me into getting implants at such a young age because I would have been happy at that point to be pain-free and flat as a pancake. I started off with the bilateral mastectomy and implantation of tissue expanders. In order to be able to administer anymore MRI’s on my heart(instead of echocardiograms for better imaging) and brain I had to have my reconstructive surgery completed to get the magnetic expanders removed and implants put into place. Turns out that surgery wasn’t done properly and less than four years later I was suffering the consequences. Now on my second reconstructive surgery things are better and the pain has subsided.

    Despite all I have been through, I never regretted a moment of my life or been bitter against what happened to me. Without all this that I have been put through by my body I would not be the same happy-go-lucky-gal that I am enjoying everyday I am alive and am able to work. What bothers me about this all and everything I have had to endure through my lifetime as a result of my disease is that somehow I passed my disease onto my daughter who is now 7 years old. Not only will she be condemned to a life of mutilating surgeries and life-threatening possibilities, but if that weren’t enough, now she can go through the same awful decision making process I do with deciding whether or not she can go a little longer without paying one bill so that she can continue to spend her life savings on medical insurance for a disease that is in no way, whatsoever her fault. There is no vaccination/booster shot for this disease, there is no cure or active search to even find one, nor are there any medications to slow the progression of all the manifestations of the disease or preventative measures. I have lived my last 13 years entrusting my life to doctors who have admittingly told me they don’t know what to do. I have faithfully paid money to an insurance company that would love to drop me and my daughter at the drop of a hat and whom refuse to give me life insurance on myself despite the fact that I live a healthy lifestyle. The last thing my doctor said to me at my last appointment was “If your IGF1 isn’t better by your next appointment, we will have to make a decision.” My doctor is referring to the fact that since my IGF1 has been elevated for the last decade of my life without any known cause, and they believe IGF1 cause my heart tumors to grow, they want to do gamma ray radiation on my brain. The appointment my doctor was giving as a deadline is January 30, 2013.

    Here is my most eminent issue today, say they decide to do surgery on my brain or follow through with gamma ray radiation, either way, I will be unable to work. My health insurance for my daughter and myself is at $916 a month and has been since the last increase this past year(my husband and his son were added. After child support and his portion of health insurance, my husband can’t even contribute to our monthly rent/utilities/gas/groceries. I am going into debt every month just make my health insurance premiums and pay all our essential monthly house bills while working as a full-time cashier at Menards. I am begging you to reconsider that new increase for health insurance premiums and asking why is it fair for people who have done nothing wrong and always lived a healthy lifestyle to be made to suffer medically and financially? Wasn’t having my adrenal glands cut out, boobs lopped off, my brain cut into and knicked, my heart taken out of my body as well as memory stolen away, and my daugher being sentenced to the same future enough trauma for two people? I feel it is unreasonable for the cost of health insurance to be more than a house payment, utilities, water, and other essentials. I don’t feel it is the job of a health insurance company to take advantage of those medically less fortunate. I thank you for your time and hope you will seriously reconsider your decision on whether or not to make Americans economy less stable than it already is.

    Respectfully,
    Rachel Deets(31 year old with Carney’s Complex) and Adriana Rye(7year old with Carney’s Complex)

  358. Wayne & Arletta Tweten Says:

    Just a quick note to let you know that to raise our (AND ALL) health ins. is not a good idea.

    People can not afford a rate increase. We are a 1 job self-employed family and our income comes from all others that can afford to have work done. With all the other increases – gas- food- insurances, etc., people can not afford to have extra work done (less income for us). We just CAN’T afford an increase in our insurance premium.

    Sincerely,

    Wayne & Arletta Tweten
    Cresco, Iowa 52136

    jl

  359. C. A. Doane Says:

    Enclosed are numerous newspaper clippings from the Des Moines Register in regards to Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the proposed 13.3% rate increase for 2013. I received a notice earlier from Wellmark that my rate woul rise 13.3%. I have filed no claims for the last several years.

    It’s interesting that during all this, Wellmark has found the revenue to sponsor the Wellmark Grand Blue Mile, Wellmark Stage at the Iowa State Fair, 3 point shots for Iowa basketball & field goals for Iowa football. They now also will have the Wellmark YMCA, after donating land to the Y for their future plans. No benefit there for a policy holder.

    If the U.S. Consumer Price Index says 2012 had a 4.4% increase in inflation for Medical services, then why is 13.3% needed by Wellmark? Wellmark also made changes to all their plans as of Dec. 15, 2012, requiring an insured MUST have prior approval for many treatments, procedures, services, or supplies. Another loss of benefits, yet a huge rate increase requested.

    I am also enclosing an article from the Fall 2012 Wellmark Blue magazine, explaining how Obamacare is going to raise the costs of all aspects of health insurance. In my opinion, I feel that Wellmark, as well as other health insurance companies, have been and ARE raising their rates substantially the last several years to “pay” for the upcoming regulations required by Obamacare. They are not going to “hand out” free health benefits and no denial of coverage for pre-existing condisionts out of the goodness of their heart. The insured right now is paying for the regulations to come in 2014, despite Wellmark spokesmen denying it has “anything to do with Obamacare – this is about the current system.” (DSM Register, 1/4/13). I have a hard time believing that.

    I am also disappointed the new health care exchanges coming are only online. That leaves out the small percentage of people that does not own or want a computer, which includes me. I would like to compare plans in the fugure, as Wellmark needs competition.

    In closing, I feel the Iowa Insurance Division should deny the 13.3% rate increase request from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. As quoted in a Register article 12/22/12 on the CoOpportunity health exchange coming this fall, Wellmark spokeswoman Courtney Greene state, “the rate of increase is unsustainable”.

    Thank you,

    C. A. Doane

    articles included come from:
    Wellmark Blue Fall 2012 issue, Money Matters;
    Wellmark Blue Fall 2012 Issue, Prior Approval Guidelines Changing;
    Des Moines Register 11/13/12, Wellmark wants to raise premiums;
    Des Moines Register 11/14/12, Iowa adds public hearings for health insurance rates;
    Des Moines Register 11/21/12, Supervisors OK land swap in D.M.;
    Des Moines Register 11/29/12, Relays to feature more big names as purse grows;
    Des Moines Register 12/11/12, Insurance fee added to health overhaul law surprises some;
    Des Moines Register 12/22/12, Wellmark Noncommittal; Wellmark Notes Cost-Reduction Efforts;
    Des Moines Register 1/4/13, Iowans rail at Wellmark premium proposal.

  360. Sister Ladonna Woerdeman Says:

    Dear Ms. Voss:

    You have heard from me before, last year when Wellmark wanted to raise rates.

    You need to vote no and deny Wellmark their rate increase of 12-13% for individual policy holders. Wellmark has a monopoly in Iowa when it comes to insuring Iowa’s citizens. Why does Wellmark need at leasta 26 Vice Presidents? Why does Mr. Forsyth, their CEO, need a salary of $3.1 million?

    Laura Jackson, herself an Executive VP for Wellmark, (I wonder what her salary is) says the rate increase is due to obesity, chronic health conditions, and increased drug costs. As I told you in my last letter, I am a Registered Licensed Dietitian. Iowa’s Registered Dietitians could save Wellmark $$$$ if they would credential dietitians and pay for us to counsel patients that are obese and have chronic disease conditions. This would be a cost-effective measure. We have evidence-based documentation of the health care savings. The Iowa Avademy of Nutrition and Dietetics has approached Wellmark on this very issue for at least the past 5 years and Wellmark ignores the offer/suggestion. They clai it is not written into current policy. How much time and effort does it take to write new policies? They have no problem putting together a request to raise rates. Why can’t Wellmark work with the pharmaceutical companies to negotiate cost savings?

    These frequent rate increases speak highly to corporate greed. The poor and individuals working several jobs can not be subject to corporate greed. Iowans are tired of these continuous increases. Look at the new building Wellmark has in Des Moines, What assurance do Iowans have that these increases don’t go to the VPs salaries, upkeep of the fancy building?

    Say no to this request on raising rates on individuals and MANDATE that Wellmark:
    -cut several of their VP positions
    -how much a CEO can be paid
    -individuals with obesity and chronic disease conditions will have at least 5 visits to a Registered Dietitian that is paid for by Wellmark
    -work wiht the pharmaceutical companies to negotiate a fair and just price

    Please consider these suggestions and my request.

    Sincerely,

    Sister Ladonna Woerdeman, MS, RD, LD, CDE
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

  361. Angela Gomez Says:

    I regret missing the meeting in Des Moines last Saturday. I’ll try to make my comments short:

    I’m on social security but am (currently) able to work temp/full time. My husband is on social security disability due to chronic back pain. The income from my job pays a good share of our expenses, including his health insurance ($385monthly premium), my Medicare supplemental insurance, our home insurance, our car insurance, our long term care insurance, prescriptions and all co-payments (anything below $3k).

    That doesn’t include normal monthly expenses such as food, gas, utilities, phone, home maintenance, clothing, eye care, dental care, property tax, etc…etc.

    Our 2013 SS benefits were increased by 1.7%. Wellmark is asking for 12.x% increase for 2013. If I don’t continue working (I’ll be 67 early this year), we’ll have to severely cut back – which means do without things like eye & dental care, canceling long-term-care policies, forgo home maintenance, etc. And just when we’re likely to need health care the most, the rug is being pulled out from under us.

    If Wellmark were fiscally responsible and operate within their means, they would do well with what they’re already getting.

    In any event, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the populace cannot survive with rapidly increasing high insurance rates as begin requested by Wellmark.

    PLEASE…..reject their request and limit all future increases to CPI.

  362. Nancy Paine Says:

    I have been a long standing customer of Wellmark since 1987. My husband was hurt at work in 2006. We were told that if we continued our coverage thru cobra for 29 months, that I was able to keep coverage for about $350 per month. They lied. We had to buy a personal coverage policy with a 250% higher deductible and a 20% co-pay for about $410 per month. Keep in mind that my husbands disability social security did not rise for 2 years, did rise about 3% last year, while wellmark raised it’s rates about 9%. This year, social security went up $34 or 1.7%, which was said to be the inflation rate. Wellmark is asking for a 12%-13% rate increase, while their CEO is being paid 3.1 million plus bonus’. If this is allowed, my annual premium will rise to $6596, or $550 per month up from $481. They are taking their customers to the cleaners because they know,as we do, that there are no alternatives. Wellmark paid doctors on my behalf in 2012 about $350, while we paid $5512 in premiums. That is quite a profit margin. All the people of Iowa are looking for is a fair shake. Thank you your help. Nancy Paine

  363. Larry and Joan Fennelly Says:

    Consumer Advocate,

    On Saturday 1/5/13 I was the only person in Davenport to attend the public hearing regarding the premium increase again requested by Wellmark Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Iowa. This hearing started at approx 11:00 a.m.

    At the start of the hearing the first speaker could not be heard and had to move and adjust a different microphone. TO me this was the first indecation that this hearing was going to be a circus of errors!

    There were 2 more speakers that could be heard and after their presentation, we were to hear from insured customers who wanted to speak against Wellmarks request for the 5th strait years of raising their rates again!

    In mine and my wifes case our premiums have increased 44% during that period!

    The next four people to speak against the increase were sent to a table and that microphone did not work at all!

    During this time, many requests were made from all 12 locations that we were unable to hear because of the dead microphone. This went on deaf ears at the Des Moines location until I became so frustrated that after approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes I left the Library location and went back home!

    To me this was an illegal hearing because I was unable to hear or participate in this so called hearing.

    I have written to the Commissioner in the past about just saying no to all these increases and do something good for the citizens of Iowa. She has failed every year to do something good for us!

    The first small business person who spoke against the increase brought it to our attention that the C.E.O of Wellmark has a salary of 3.1 million per year. After the circus hearing that took place in Des Moines he should donate some of that money towards a new audio system at Mercy College of Health.

    Larry D. Fennelly
    Joan M Fennelly
    Davenport, IA 52803

  364. Beverly Jean Helsing Says:

    I already received a notice of premium change dated 11-20-2012 from Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield from 198.20 a month to 207.80 a month starting in Jan. – Now I hear they want to increase my premium 13% a month for 2013 thats 2 increases for the year 2013, that’s not fair!!

    I’m a totaly Disabled (since age 25) Senior Citizen, now 76 years old on Soc. Sec only. A WWII Navy [illegible]…….1 yr. in Navel Hospital WWII. When I worked we got 68 cents a hour.

    So Please, don’t let Wellmark Blue Cross – Blue Shield increase my premium a 2nd time in 2013!!

    I already use Broad Lawn Hosp. Sometimes I get turned down for care there [illegible]. My Doctor is too busy to see me, Dr [illegible],over a yr. now [illegible] in lungs so no help. Told to go home & not worry- walk-in claim.

    Beverly Jean Helsing
    Des Moines, IA

  365. Ellen Hosch Says:

    RE: Public comments regardin gthe proposed base premium rate increase by Wellmark

    Both as an individual Wellmark subscriber and a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, I strongly oppose the base rate increase proposed by Wellmark. In a recent summary of benefits and coverage I have with my policy, there was absolutely no mention or reference to nutrition or the role it plays in both the prevention and treatment of almost all chronic diseases. Currently diabetes management is the only chronic disease where medical nutrition therapy is a covered service by Wellmark, yet heart disease, high blood pressure, celia disease, diverticulitis, and obesity are but a few among many of the chronic diseases impacted by nutrition and thus play a vital role in the costs of disease management. It has been reported the for every $4 spent on health covereage, $3 of that is for chronic diseases. Registered Dietitians have not been allowed to become providers in the Wellmark network, nor is there approval for their services to be covered in an effort to reduce costs for these other chronic diseases.

    Our Registered Dietitians colleagues in North Carolina completed a nutrition therapy cost study and with the help of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina concluded that for every $1 spent on medical nutrition therapy, $3 was saved.

    I would hope the Iowa Insurance Division will ask Wellmark why medical nutrition therapy has not been included in their search for cost savings.

    In the meantime, we should not support a further increase in Wellmark premium costs.

    Ellen Hosch, RD, LD, CDE
    Eldridge, IA 52748

  366. Lizabeth Matis Says:

    Dear Sirs:

    I am responding to the notice I received regarding the proposed Base Premium Rate Increase. Your reasoning you state is because of higher costs by policyholders in my rating class. By rating class I can only assume it is my age group.

    As I have stated in prior responses to your requests to raise my rates not too long ago: I view my policy with BCBS as preventative care. I do not run to the Doctor or the Hospital any time I feel an illness coming on. I realize the cost of health care has gone up, but I don’t think those of us that keep our Dr. visits to a minimum and keep our prescription needs low should be penalized. I have friends who have policies with other health insurance companies that recognize those that keep their health care costs low by placing them in a different “group”
    with a lower rate. Maybe that is something BCBS of Iowa should consider.

    Thank you for your consideration of my input,

    V43
    Lizabeth L. Matis

  367. Jan youngblood Says:

    I know it won’t do any good to write this but I am outraged that Wellmark is proposing another rate increase for people who have to purchase their own insurance. I am a single mother and the only way I can afford health insurance after the last rate increase was to increase my deductible for my HSA from $2800 to $5400. I do not go to the Dr. because ever penny comes out of my pocket up to the $5400 amount. I don’t want to go on Iowa Cares but Wellmark is forcing a lot of us to go to this program which will just add more burden to the tax payers. I cannot believe the CEO is getting a salary of 3.1 million dollars. If they need more money cut their own benefits including these unrealistic salaries and they sure didn’t need to build a new building in Des Moines and now they expect the rest of us to pay for it.

    I’m asking you to deny the proposed rate increase for once. Think about the rest of us who are trying to do the right thing and pay for our own health care.

    Thanks!
    Jan Youngblood
    Ankeny, IA

  368. rachel allen Says:

    To whom it may concern,

    I am a Wellmark BC/BS HSA policy holder. I have been a Wellmark policy holder for many years and only in the last several have I had the HSA plan. I pay for my policy for my family out of my own pocket as my employer does not offer coverage and my husband is self-employed. We do not receive any reimbursement or help from anyone for our health insurance. I switched to the HSA plan because we are a healthy family and to reduce our monthly premium because health insurance is so expensive.
    We are not overweight, exercise regularly, do not smoke, and rarely use our coverage as we do not need to. Our premium continues to go up which I understand with rising health care costs BUT I do not understand why it has been going up SO MUCH OR SO OFTEN! I could also understand if we used the coverage more often. But Wellmark has yet to pay out for any of my services since this is an HSA! Between my premium and my contribution to the HSA account my monthly payment is almost as much as my house payment! My family can’t afford this if it keeps going up! We all know how much the CEO of Wellmark makes and it is very frustrating!

    My hands are tied and I am pleading for an NO to the rate increase. Please.

    Sincerely,
    Rachel Allen
    Wilton, Iowa

  369. Liz Matis Says:

    Dear Sirs:

    I am responding to the notice I received regarding proposed Base Premium Rate Increase. Your reasoning you state is because of higher costs by policyholders in my rating class. By rating class I can only assume it is my age group.

    As I have stated in prior responses to your requests to raise my rates: I view my policy with BCBS as preventive care. I do not run to the Doctor or the Hospital any time I feel an illness coming on. I realize the cost of health care has gone up, but I don’t think those of us that keep our Dr. visits to a minimum and keep our prescription needs low should be penalized. I have friends who have policies with other health insurance companies that recognize those that keep their health care costs low by placing them in a different “group” with a lower rate. Maybe that is something BCBS of Iowa should consider.

    Thank you for your consideration of my input.

    Lizabeth L. Matis

  370. Toni Hood Says:

    Wellmark, the enormously profitable insurance “dragon,” needs to be slain. The school I work for is covered by Wellmark and they continually raise our rates. One of their reps told the faculty that people are irresponisble in their health care choices, visit doctors too often, take too many drugs, and have unhealthy lifestyles. In other words, it’s all our fault. They refuse to take any ownership of their ridiculous rates. Our school system, despite many entreaties, will not put our coverage up for open bidding by other insurers. I continually wonder what the real relationship is between Wellmark and the school-do they get some inducement that is not shared with the employees? The state of Iowa has an obligation to help its citizens combat the nefarious practices of the state’s primary insurance companies.
    Toni F Hood
    Humboldt, Iowa

  371. Russ Ver Ploeg Says:

    To Whom it May Concern,
    I switched from Wellmark to Coventry 1 year ago because I was fed up with the Wellmark’s repeated and excessive premium increases. I see those increases are allowed to continue and that Wellmark remains undaunted. I’m writing to encourage you to put the brakes on their excesses because I fear that Coventry will see what Wellmark gets away with and will start to follow suit.

    Our politicians talk about supporting the small business owner. My business cannot withstand such large premium increases.

    Thank you for your consideration.
    -Russ Ver Ploeg

    Russ Ver Ploeg, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

  372. J. Mac Jordan Says:

    Hello Susan Voss!

    I think I have two plausible solutions for you and this whole mess, the first is admittedly a farce of sorts based on the arguments made thus far, but the second has merit. Read through it and reserve judgment until you’ve made it through – it’ll be a sucker punch to Wellmark, but it’ll shut them up for quite some time – they’re marketing team will be ripping their hair out of their heads, but that’s how you stop a corporation like this (and its perfectly legal).

    (A) Please affirm the Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield (WBCBS) rate increase as proposed. It seems to me if the only appeal that the populace (i.e., the vast majority of the people on this board) can make against the proposed rate increase is with personal attacks against you, WBCBS, and/or simply whine about how terrible their situation is because they have this and that disease and they’re going to be so utterly burdened by the increase they’ll be living under a bridge, then it’s high time for them to learn a hard lesson. It will benefit them when the next increase comes down the pipes; so really, it’s a win-win situation.

    (1) Wellmark gets their increase &,
    (2) The people will learn, possibly by just classical conditioning (i’m assuming that will be how it occurs because no one is reading each others’ posts – they ‘re just gonna say how it is an be on their way), that ad hominem attacks and emotional appeals have mean nothing. WCBbS’s lawyers are going to rip all these appeals to shreds.

    But, if you approve the rate increase, maybe their means of combating WBCBS will fall into something legally coherent the next time. Perhaps then they will shift into a means to help you combat WBCBS. I think this just might work, so I’d say go for it.

    (B) Or, if you really wanted to make headlines and make WBCBS scurry back into their hole in the wall, you could make a judgment based on laws that were never intended for this sort of situation (e.g. domestic terrorism). The national media will hammer WBCBS so hard, they won’t know what to do – if you can hurt their brand’s image in a very visual way by technicality of law, interpreted in the most extreme sense, then the problem goes away just long enough. The decision is a ways away – if you want to show the people you care and will stand for them at a very high cost (personal and political because you will be hit by the media too), then perhaps this thing can, at least, get clogged in the courts until 2014 rolls around. And even if it is political, and you are bombarded by the media; how do you think the American public will judge you? Or judge Terry Branstad? If the people see Iowa using government laws they largely oppose being used against WBCBS – a corporation within a greater corporate community (which the people of the US won’t distinguish) – they too largely oppose, then you’ve got the people, you’ve got political leverage, and you can show DC and their corporate allies that Iowa is not to be f—-d with and we will get things done.

    So, either try the increase and rely on conditioning because the people generally know little about law and conditioning requires repitition; or throw yourself out there for Iowa – bring every national media outlet to Des Moines and let WBCBS explain to the media why they are not domestic terrorists.

    ~J. Mac

  373. Marilyn J. Doxsee Says:

    - sent via mail –

    Dear Ms. Voss:

    I am a 85 yr. old widow living on S.S.. My husband passed away on March 4, 2012. We appreciated his Blue Cross-Blue Shield Coverage over the years of his life. I am still covered by Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

    I am having a difficult time keeping up with the cost of living on a limited income. An increase in my insurance coverage would be impossible.

    I do not have a computer, that is the reason for this letter.

    Please deny the increase Wellmark is talking about!

    I know I am not the first one to contact you. There are alot of people like myself in this economy.

    Thank you and God Bless!

    Marilyn J. Doxsee
    Boone, Iowa

  374. Becki Christensen Says:

    I don’t know what the answer to keeping health care costs down. I do know that it is VERY important to me to do MY share on keeping me healthy. Some of the things I do for that, I use my health insurance for. I concentrate on prevention and also wellness. There are a lot of things I pay for out of my pocket to keep me healthy too. (Vitamins, massage, acupuncture)

    I am self employed and yes it does hurt every year when my premium goes up.

    Yes, I like being self employed even though I buy my own insurance and have no paid sick leave or paid vacation. But sometimes I wonder if people like me are the ones “paying” for those people that are covered by their employer. Maybe the employer has rate raises like the self-employed, I don’t know.

    Please keep it down as low as you can, health insurance is now my biggest expense of the month!

    Respectfully,
    Becki Christensen
    Ames, Iowa

  375. Harry Henrey Says:

    I just think 12% is really excessive. I hope she tones it down or turns it down. I’m probably blowing in the wind. Wellmark has a powerful lobby and they are a powerful company and the individual cannot compete or be heard.

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