Wellmark opts out of Iowa exchange, citing customer service concerns

Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield won't be participating for at least the first year of Iowa's health insurance exchange, citing the unpredictability of the online marketplace's quality and customer service.

Wellmark, which is Iowa's dominant insurer with 86 percent of individual policies and 64 percent of small business policies, instead will wait to participate for at least one year. Overall, Wellmark is concerned about the exchange's rollout and lack of available information, reported The Gazette.

"The primary reason, we didn't feel we were going to be able to guarantee the quality of experience [customers] are accustomed to with us," Wellmark Blue CEO John Forsyth told the Associated Press. "We didn't think the first few months would be very smooth."

Wellmark Vice President Laura Jackson said the company weighed all the options before choosing to wait a year before selling plans on the exchange. "It wasn't a decision we took lightly," she told the Des Moines Register. "We just want to do it well."

The insurer also was concerned whether it could successfully integrate the exchange's IT system with its own system, which according to the company, could take at least six months of testing before ready for launch.

To learn more:
- read The Gazette article
- see the Associated Press article
- check out the Des Moines Register article

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