Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
September 10, 1999

ISU benefits committee is tracking Wellmark contracts

by Linda Charles
The University Benefits Committee is keeping an eye on the "Wellmark situation," committee chair Mark Power told the Professional and Scientific Council at its Sept. 2 meeting.

Several health providers, especially in the Council Bluffs and Sioux City areas, have terminated their relationships with Wellmark/Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa rather than sign its new "Universal Contract" or a stand-alone contract, he said. The new contracts base the amount the health care providers can charge on federal guidelines for Medicare and Medicaid payments. Health care providers who sign the contract agree not to charge more than the amount set by the insurance company.

While most health care providers in the Ames and Des Moines area have signed contracts with Wellmark, Extension staff in outlying areas of the state may be affected if health care providers in their areas do not sign a contract, Power said.

Iowa State, whose insurance is self-funded, uses Wellmark to administer its insurance plan. ISU offers four different plans. The indemnity, point of service (POS) and catastrophic plans are administered by Wellmark while the HMO plan is administered by Health Alliance.

Some of the Wellmark plans require ISU staff to see health care providers who are part of the Wellmark network. Other plans allow staff to see health care providers outside the network, but employees may have more out-of-pocket expenses to pay, Power said.

Staff may check online to see if their health care provider has signed a contract with Wellmark at:

During the coming year, the Benefits Committee will study the plans offered by the university and consider whether Iowa State should stay with the same insurance companies. One reason for choosing Wellmark in the first place, Power said, was that it offered an extensive network of participating health care providers. If that network has shrunk, the university may need to reconsider its plans, he added.

In other business, the council:

In making awards, the selection committee favored projects that involve more than one department and receive some department funding. The committee also considered the number of students affected and staff/students involved, anticipated outcomes and the procedures to measure outcomes.

Proposals receiving funding can be found online at:

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