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Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it is seeking federal approval to offer Medicare Advantage plans beginning in 2022.
If approved by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the state’s largest insurance carrier would offer plans under a new affiliate — Wellmark Advantage Health Plan — to Iowans and South Dakotans during this coming fall’s annual enrollment period.
Officials did not specify when they anticipate federal approval could arrive.
This year’s annual election period will take place Oct. 7 through Dec. 7 for coverage that would begin Jan. 1, 2022.
“We are excited to introduce Wellmark Advantage Health Plan and our products to Iowa and South Dakota,” Jason Humphrey, Wellmark’s vice president of Medicare Advantage, said in a news release.
“Our Medicare Advantage plans will provide consumers with the benefits, network and price points that meet their unique needs.”
In the first year, Wellmark Advantage Health Plan will be offered only in select Iowa and South Dakota counties, Wellmark officials stated in the announcement.
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, are health plans offered by private companies with approval from the federal agency. These plans provide both Medicare Part A — which covers hospital and nursing home care — and Medicare Part B — which handles medically necessary services and other preventive health care.
Many Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage, or Medicare Part D, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
While Medicare pays a fixed amount each month to companies for members’ care, these companies offering Medicare Advantage plans can charge different out-of-pocket costs and may set additional rules for obtaining health care services.
Wellmark officials did not offer any details about the plans it would offer to Medicare members, citing pending approval from CMS.
“We know consumers have varied needs and want choices when it comes to health insurance,” Humphrey said in a news release.
“We are confident the new Medicare Advantage options will complement Wellmark’s existing Medicare product offerings to provide consumers with solutions that best meet their needs.”
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