Iowa approves Wellmark’s rate increase

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has approved a 9.3 percent rate increase by Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield for individual health insurance premiums.

The Gazette says Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss approved the request last week. The decision means rate increases of up to $45 a month beginning April 1 for 86,000 individual Wellmark policyholders ages 65 and under.

Wellmark insures about 1.8 million Iowa residents, most through employers.

The Des Moines-based company proposed the increase, citing rising health care costs. The increase follows an 8.5 percent rise last April and an 18 percent increase in 2010.

In the decision, Voss says the “balancing” of the needs of consumers and the solvency of an insurance carrier must be weighed carefully. She says there’s no evidence the increase is discriminatory or excessive.