Consumer Advocate Report Regarding the Public Testimony and Comments

Click below to read the Consumer Advocate’s report reviewing the public comments and testimony presented to the Commissioner of Insurance.  All comments included in the report were received on or before January 6, 2011. 

2011 Wellmark Hearing Public Testimony and Comments Report

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One Response to “Consumer Advocate Report Regarding the Public Testimony and Comments”

  1. C.A. Doane Says:

    I would like to make a few points in regards to the proposed 11% Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield rate increase coming in April 2011, right after the 18% increase of 2010. I have changed my plan several times through all the rates increases of the last several years & have given up a lot of coverage, just to try to pay the premium. I just changed my plan in April, 2010 & now here is yet another increase. I have not had a claim with Wellmark for years.

    The … Des Moines Register article and the letter both my sister and I received in December 2010 do not “jive” in my view. The November 13, 2010 story states “the increase is not due to the new health reform law” according to Wellmark spokesman Rob Schweers. Also, that costs are up due to “higher prices and greater demand for healthcare”. It too states “patients are receiving more treatment in emergency departments, which as expensive”, etc. – and Schweers “emphasized that the proposed increase for next year has nothing to do with implementation of the new health reform law”. Mr. Schweers also comments his company intends to make a profit of 1 – 3% on the premium it collects and “we hope to do a little better than break even, but not be in the hole”.

    The December 16, 2010 Des Moines Register article states “Wellmark says it must raise rates to keep up with increasing prices and use of medical services. It makes less profit than most other insurers, but it must bring in enough money to maintain healthy reserves.” Again Wellmark says its rate increases have “nothing to do with its new $250 million headquarters OR with expected changes from the federal health reform law. It further says Schweers said “costs rose 23% last year for knee and hip replacement and for back pain treatment. Costs for emergency room care also keep rising, even though fewer Wellmark members are using emergency rooms.” Yet, the 11/16/10 article had said that “patients are receiving MORE treatment in emergency departments, which are expensive.” Which is true?

    The letter I received from Wellmark in December 2010 with changes to my health plan states “the premium increase will be the result of several factors. one of the factors impacting premium increase will be the additional benefits required under the law.” So, after denying twice in newspaper articles that rate increases were NOT because of health reform, now it is. Which is true?

    I think Wellmark brings in enough “money to maintain healthy reserves.” I listen to Iowa football & basketball games on WHO Radio & Wellmark sponsors The Wellmark Field Goal and Wellmark 3 point shots for each one made in a game, and dontates money to some “worthwhile cause” in Iowa City. They sponsor Civic Center shows, have Wellmark Stage at the Iowa State Fair, The Iowa Games, etc, etc- the list is endless. I feel if they have all that excess reserve laying about, perhaps they should not have to have a yearly rate increase if they would share some of their “reserves” with their members with premium reduction.

    Every year with the same excuses, and now, after denying it, stating that part of the increase is because of health care reform – at least that’s what the letter to their members says.

    I think the Iowa Insurance Division needs to tell Wellmark they need to get their information correct and not be misleading in their statements. They do not need another rate increase. Thanks for your consideration.

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