SPOTLIGHT: Wellmark chief expects a rocky exchange launch

The launch of the health insurance exchanges will be rocky at best, says John Forsyth, chairman of Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, reported the Des Moines Register. "This isn't going to work well initially, in my opinion," he said during an Iowa Association of Health Underwriters conference. That's part of the reason why Wellmark opted not to participate in Iowa's exchange, waiting instead until 2015 to sell plans on the online marketplace. "If we were on the exchange, people would blame us if it didn't work well. And if we're not on the exchange, we'll get blamed because it would work better if we were on the exchange," he said. "It's a classic no-win situation." He admitted that by delaying its participation, Wellmark likely could lose some members who decide to join competitors' plans. But the federal government's slow progress in setting up the exchanges factored into Wellmark's decision, Forsyth said, noting that the marketplaces are more complicated than the Medicare prescription drug program that saw several technical problems when it launched in 2006. And the feds were more prepared then than they are now. "I hope we're wrong. I hope it's a smooth experience at the beginning of the year," he added. "But I would say it's highly unlikely." Article

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