Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield not entirely sold on insurance exchange

Wellmark Blue Cross Blue ShieldThe largest insurance provider in Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, is still debating whether or not it wishes to take part in the insurance exchange in the state.

If this insurer does not take part, it could be destructive to the entire insurance exchange initiative.

The state insurance exchanges are considered to be a key component of the healthcare reform program for the entire country. Supporters of the exchanges are saying that the systems and services they will establish will assist millions of small businesses, families, and individuals to better compare and purchase affordable and appropriate health insurance policies, as of 2014.

To be eligible for public subsidies for their health coverage, Americans with moderate income will have to use the exchanges.

Chairman John Forsyth of Wellmark explained that the insurer didn’t yet know if it would be participating in the exchange in order to offer its coverage in Iowa.

In that state, three quarters of all policies for small businesses and individuals are provided by Wellmark. Experts in the industry have said that the exchange in that state would greatly benefit from Wellmark’s involvement since it has the largest network in Iowa of hospitals and doctors that accept its insurance. Due to the sheer size of its market share, the insurer holds significant leverage for negotiating better healthcare prices.

According to Forsyth, the company has yet to determine what it should expect from the exchange, such as what its cost will be to provide new members with healthcare coverage. He also pointed out that the insurer is owned by the over 1.8 million Iowans who are currently policyholders.

He explained their debate by saying that “If we looked and said there’s a high probability of us losing a whole lot of money, would our owners want us to do that?”

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