DES MOINES (AP) — Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to sell health insurance policies compliant with the federal Affordable Care Act in Iowa next year.
The company announced Thursday plans to offer policies as long as there aren’t any significant changes to the 2010 law also known as Obamacare.
Wellmark, the state’s largest health insurer, announced last April it would stop selling subsidy-eligible ACA plans because of high costs, an uncertain future and the loss of $90 million over three years. It insured 21,400 individuals.
On Thursday the company said it believes the individual market can be functional again.
Minnesota-based Medica is the only company selling ACA-compliant polices statewide this year.
About 72,000 Iowans buy health insurance on the individual market. People enrolled in those plans saw a nearly 43 percent premium increase this past year.
Company officials said more stability in the ACA market allows Wellmark make the return, said Cory Harris, executive vice president and chief administrative and legal officer.
“Remember last year in Washington, it was all about repeal and replace, which left our company with a lot of uncertainty about the viability about this particular market segment,” Harris said. “A lot of that has seemed to have subsided to some degree.
“That regulatory uncertainty has dissipated just enough that we think we’re able to step back in and serve the market segment that we had historically been in and we want to be in.”
Enrollment nationwide on the ACA exchange remained virtually unchanged from last year, despite efforts by President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to eliminate or weaken the 2010 health law. According to nationwide figures from the National Academy for State Health Policy, almost 12 million people signed up during the enrollment period for 2018 health coverage through the ACA.
Wellmark’s exit left three insurers on the Iowa exchange — Medica, Aetna and Gundersen Health Plan.
Aetna departed Iowa’s individual insurance market in April 2017, leaving Medica as the only statewide provider of ACA-compliant plans — health plans that cover certain “essential benefits” dictated by the federal law.
Gundersen sells in only five of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Michaela Ramm of The Gazette contributed to this report.