Iowa: UnitedHealthcare OUT, but Wellmark is IN for 2017

The UnitedHealthcare Dropout Odometer grew by two more states today, as both Kentucky and Iowa were scratched off the "2017 Exchange Participation" list.

However, there's some positive news for Iowa, at least; as noted by Cynthia Cox and reported on by Tony Leys of the Des Moines Register, Wellmark is joining the Iowa exchange next year:

Iowa’s dominant health insurer has agreed to start selling policies a year from now that qualify for Obamacare subsidies.

Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield has not participated in the Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace, which launched in the fall of 2013. The main effect of the company’s decision was that moderate-income Iowans could not choose Wellmark insurance if they wanted to purchase policies that qualified for new federal subsidies to help pay premiums.

Other insurers have participated in the marketplace, also known as an exchange. Three carriers are selling policies statewide for 2016. Wellmark announced Monday that it will start selling policies on the marketplace for 2017, because the online system has become more reliable and because the legality of the federal subsidies has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’ve said from day one we’d be there, and we meant it,” Wellmark Chairman John Forsyth said in an interview Monday.

The article goes on to note that Iowa is one of the states which allowed insurers to extend "transitional" policies out from 12/31/13 all the way out until 12/31/17. Now that those policies are finally being phased out (along with the other reasons noted above), they're jumping into the exchange. They claim this isn't the reason, but it certainly is nice timing for them (and there's nothing wrong with that).