By Ron Marasco
About 150,000 Wellmark individual policy holders may be feeling a little sicker after hearing the Iowa Insurance Division granted Wellmark's request to raise health insurance premiums by roughly 13%. The increase becomes effective April 1.
Lin Sorenson from Des Moines has seen her health insurance premiums go from $200 a month to more than $400 a month in just 5 years.
"It's outrageous!" said Sorenson. "They do that to us because they can get away with it. They can't do it to the large manufacturing companies, etc."
The Iowa Insurance Division ordered one external and one internal review of Wellmark's request to determine if the increase was justified. They determined it was.
"I would also say that the commissioner comes to this very seriously and with her own emotions about this," said spokesman Tom Alger. "But her job is to determine whether or not the facts supported the increase."
More than 1.6 million employer- based and Medicare policy holders within Wellmark will not see an increase because the company didn't ask for one.
To Lin Sorenson, she doesn't believe it's fair to stick individuals with the bill.
"I think there maybe should be a law that ties the health behavior that we have to our policy similar to what we have with car insurance," said Sorenson.
Sorenson also wonders why Wellmark's CEO John Forsyth makes a large salary while individual policy holders suffer.
"I wish that he could have been there to see the pain when people were talking at the public hearing about what this meant to them personally," said Sorenson.
Wellmark sent a statement to ABC5 Wednesday night. In it they say they recognize health care costs are unsustainable, and therefore health insurance is not affordable for some. But that they'll continue to work with doctors and hospitals across the state to improve both the efficiency and quality of care.