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Wellmark began as Hospital Service Incorporated of Iowa in 1939, headquartered in Des Moines. In the same year, a similar company was started in Sioux City, South Dakota; it was known as Associated Hospital Services. In the coming years both companies would take on Blue Cross and Blue Shield licenses and change their names to reflect this; they became Blue Cross of Iowa and Blue Cross of Western Iowa and South Dakota respectively.
In 1989, the two companies merged, forming IASD Health Services Corporation, and became a mutual company in 1991. The name Wellmark was adopted in 1997.
Wellmark offers individual and employer health insurance plans. They also have a range of Medicare Supplement Plans and Part D Prescription Drug plans. The company does not currently offer Medicare Advantage.
Today they have offices in Des Moines, Sioux City, and Cedar Rapids and cover regions of both states.
Wellmark’s plans are Medicare Supplement and Part D. The available coverage and details of benefits vary between Iowa and South Dakota.
Wellmark offers six Supplement plans, one of which is new to their lineup for 2017. As with all Medicare Supplement companies, they offer a basic plan, which under the lettered system is known as Plan A. This plan covers coinsurance costs for hospital and medical care as well as for hospice care. It also covers the first three pints of blood each year.
In addition to Plan A, Wellmark also writes Plan D, F, high deductible F, G (new for 2017) and N. Plan F and the high deductible version are the same in terms of coverage, with the latter having a deductible that lowers the monthly premium. F is generally the most comprehensive plan and thus the most expensive; the high deductible option makes it more affordable.
A, F, and N are the most common plans; Wellmark offers two additional plan choices beyond those three for greater selection. There are a total of 11 plans, which makes their offerings somewhat limited overall.
Wellmark’s Medicare BlueRx comes in two levels, Standard and Premier.
The Standard Plan has no deductible for Tier 1 drugs, and a $400 deductible for the other Tiers. Copays start at $1 for Preferred Generics (Tier 1) and are $16 for Tier 2, 18% for Tier 3, 35% for Tier 4 and 25% for Tier 5.
The Premier Plan has no deductible across the board in return for a higher premium. Tier 1 & 2 co pays start at $0. Tier 3 is 18%, Tier 4 45% and Tier 5 33%.
Rates are not available online for the Medicare Supplement Plans. The rates for Part D coverage, however, are clearly listed.
The Standard plan comes in at $35.10 a month, while the Premier Plan is $111.20 a month. Even with the deductible taken into consideration, the Premier Plan is quite a bit more expensive than the Standard Plan and may not be worth the extra expense unless you anticipate a large number of costly prescriptions.
As Wellmark is a regional provider, we are unable to provide national rate comparisons.
Ratings and Reviews
Wellmark has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. There have been 22 complaints filed against the company in the past 3 years, with 8 of those closed in the past 12 months. That’s a pretty low complaint volume for a company of this size.
There are three negative reviews of Wellmark on Yelp. None of the reviews are particularly enlightening and helpful in terms of clear complaints against the company; they are general and don’t raise concern about the company reputation overall.
We were unable to locate and reviews that pertained directly to Wellmark’s Medicare policies. There are very few complaints in general about this company, which is a good sign.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a good selection of Medicare Supplement offerings and like the comfort of the Blue Cross Blue Shield name, Wellmark is a good choice. They offer a number of choices without being overwhelming and confusing and have a long history as well as a good reputation.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.