Iowa Insurance Commissioner Urges Calm after Wellmark Leaves ACA Market

Apr 4, 2017

The Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield building in Des Moines.
Credit Tony Webster / flickr

Iowa’s insurance commissioner is urging customers with individual health insurance policies to stay calm after Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield decided to stop selling individual plans. 

Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said he is disappointed with Wellmark's decision. It affects more than 21,000 Iowans who bought individual Obamacare-compliant plans from Wellmark after the start of 2014. Those customers will have to find a new insurance plan for 2018. 

Ommen said there are two other companies offering individual policies in the state, but they have not yet confirmed if they will continue to do so next year.

“The companies that are involved aren’t required by law to file anything with us to declare their intentions until June," Ommen said. "But certainly over the next several months we’ll have a much clearer picture as to how our market will look in 2018.”

According to a press release, Wellmark lost about $90 million in the individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) market over three years. 

Ommen said there is a lot of uncertainty associated with the future of the Affordable Care Act and efforts to repeal it.

"I would encourage people to remain calm while Congress and this office and [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] Secretary Tom Price try to work through the circumstances as they currently exist," Ommen said.

He added he hopes decisions made at the federal level will stabilize the health insurance market.