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Review Backs Top Iowa Insurer's $1.3B Reserve Fund

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A review by an independent consultant says the $1.3 billion in reserves held by Iowa's dominant health insurer is "reasonable and prudent" for now.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart hired Risk and Regulatory Consulting, LLC, to review whether Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield had the right amount of customers' money in reserves.

Its report released Wednesday says Wellmark is holding an appropriate amount given the risks the company faces. The report says a smaller future surplus might be needed if the insurance market stabilizes following full implementation of federal health reform.

Some Democratic lawmakers, including gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch, demanded an investigation into Wellmark's reserves, contending much of that money should be returned to policyholders.

Wellmark provides coverage for more than 2 million people in Iowa and South Dakota.

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