Iowa health insurer to seek smaller rate hikes

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Months after customers blasted the company for skyrocketing rates, Iowa’s dominant health insurer says it will limit premium increases in 2014 to less than six percent for individual and small business policyholders.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced Tuesday it won’t raise premiums to cover increases for medical or administrative costs in 2014. Instead, it will only raise rates to offset new fees and taxes required of insurance carriers under the Affordable Care Act.

The decision impacts 330,000 individuals who purchase health insurance from Wellmark, or who get insurance through small businesses with less than 50 employees.

It comes after an increase of more than 12 percent went into effect for Wellmark customers April 1. The hike prompted customers to express frustration online and at a public hearing.

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