Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield will start selling health plans on Iowa's exchange during the 2016 open-enrollment period, after sitting out the first two years.
Wellmark, Iowa's largest insurer, will add a popular brand to the marketplace for 2017 coverage. Problems have surfaced in Iowa this year. The state's not-for-profit plan created by the Affordable Care Act folded, and overall enrollment remains lackluster.
About 225,000 Iowans are eligible for exchange plans, but only 39,000 people, or 18% of that population, have enrolled, according to the CMS and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The low enrollment was largely because Wellmark did not participate.
Many of Wellmark's members have taken advantage of keeping non-grandfathered health plans until 2016, a move President Barack Obama made in 2013 to avoid backlash from consumers who saw their previous policies canceled.
Five insurers—Aetna's Coventry subsidiary, Avera Health Plans, Gunderson Health Plan, Medica and UnitedHealthcare—are offering individual plans on Iowa's exchange in this year's upcoming open-enrollment period, which starts Nov. 1.