UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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Wellmark was formed with the merging of two companies that both date back to 1939. Hospital Services Incorporated out of Des Moines, Iowa, and Associated Hospital Services in Sioux City, South Dakota operated separately until 1989. Both had already taken on Blue Cross Blue Shield licensing individually before their merger.
Originally operating as IASD Health Services Corporation, the change to a mutual company was made in 1991. In 1997, the name was changed to Wellmark.
Wellmark continues to operate in portions of both Iowa and South Dakota, with offices in Sioux City, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids.
The company offers individual and group major medical health insurance plans. Currently, they write only Medicare Supplement and Part D plans and do not write any Medicare Advantage plans.
Wellmark Medicare Plans
Plan availability varies based on location, but Wellmark has both supplement and Part D plans in both states.
Wellmark writes six of the 11 available standard Medicare Supplement plans. Available are Plan A, D, F, high deductible F, G, and N.
Plan A is offered by all Medicare Supplement insurers, and it is the basic plan that pays for Part B coinsurance as well as covering the first three pints of blood each year. From there, each plan adds on additional coverage for deductibles and other out of pocket expenses.
Plan F is the most comprehensive of the plans, which also makes it generally the most expensive. The high deductible version of this plan makes it more affordable on a monthly basis in return for having to pay a deductible before the coverage kicks in.
Plan N differs from the other plans in that it has copays for office visits and ER, which usually makes the plan more affordable than some of the other options.
Part D prescription drug coverage is sold through a separate website and is not Wellmark branded. It is sold under the MedicareBlue Rx name, still Blue Cross Blue Shield, and there are two options.
The Standard plan is more affordable but has a $405 deductible that applies to Tiers 3 and up. Copays on this plan start at $1 for Tier 1 drugs from a preferred pharmacy. Tier 2 starts at a $5 copay, and the remaining tiers have coinsurance percentages. Tier 3 is at 17%, Tier 4 is at 30%, and Tier 5 has a coinsurance of 25%.
The Premier plan has a higher monthly cost but has no deductible and $0 copays for both Tier 1 and 2. Tier 3 is the same at 17%, but Tier 4 is higher at 45%, as is tier 5 with a 33% coinsurance.
We ran a Medicare Supplement quote for a 65-year-old female in Iowa and looked at the 2019 rates. Plan A has only a standard rate available at $160.40. The remaining plans have both standard and preferred rates; the site states that there are a few circumstances under which an applicant can qualify for preferred, including based on answers to application questions.
The least expensive plan is the high deductible Plan F, at a preferred rate of $66.30. The standard rate for the same plan is $90. While the Plan A rates show an increase from 2018 rates, the Plan F did not increase.
Rates for Part D plans are readily available. The Standard plan has a monthly premium of $37.40, and the Premier plan costs $100.60 a month.
Claims information is not available on the company website for Medicare plans. That is common for health insurance companies as claims are usually handled directly with providers.
It is rare for a member to need to be involved with a claim, but most likely any issues can be handled through customer service.
Ratings and Consumer Reviews
Wellmark has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) based on their Iowa location, and there are 16 complaints on file in the past three years. They have been accredited since 1974.
The company has a one-star rating on Yelp that is based on three negative reviews. None of the reviews relates to Medicare plans, but rather to individual health insurance plans.
We were unable to find much else in terms of reviews of Wellmark, and nothing that referred to Medicare plans specifically. As a general rule, a lack of reviews for an insurance company is a good thing, since people are more inclined to write reviews when they are unhappy than when things are going well.
The Bottom Line
Wellmark has a decent selection of plans and a good reputation. We cannot compare their rates to other states, but in our experience their Plan A premium is on the high side, while the other plans have fairly reasonable rates. Wellmark appears to be a good choice for Medicare Supplement insurance if you are in their coverage area.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.