Iowa Senators Question Wellmark's Cash Reserves

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By Richard Pratt

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two state senators want Iowa to investigate whether the state's dominant health insurer really needs $1.3 billion in reserves.

Sens. Jack Hatch and Matt McCoy, both Des Moines Democrats, are skeptical about Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield's reserves because Wellmark has decided against participating next year in the state's health insurance exchange.

Wellmark did not respond to a request for comment.

The Des Moines Register reports that Hatch delivered a letter Monday to Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart, asking for the investigation. Hatch says state regulations require the insurer to have reserves of only $350 million.

Gerhart said last month he might investigate Wellmark's need for the large reserve if the company didn't take the risk of entering the exchange.

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