1. All trainings at a glance - UPDATED
Upcoming SEP & Effective Date Changes -  pushed back to August 1
3.  2017 Individual Rate Increase Infomation (ACA & pre-ACA)
4. New IFP Quoting & Enrollment System Coming in August
5. SAVE THE DATE:  Wellmark Producer Forums August 2016
6. SEP Commission changes - pushed back to September 1
7. Plan G is coming in 2017
8. 2017 IRS limits released
9. More information located on our Resources Page
10. Training information
Below is all the upcoming trainings at a glance - Some trainings have been updated.

Wellmark Trainings:
1. Annual Agent Certification 
WHEN: Annually (2016 certification is now closed)
WHERE: Online training via Blue Learning Center   ( - do not use www
WHAT: Must pass final assessment with a 90% passing grade - 3 attempts only
-failure to pass or attempt the assessment will result in loss of Wellmark appointment for 2 years.

2. Individual & Family Plan Quoting & Enrollment System Training
TRAINING CLOSED - Watch for webinars and helpful tips coming to Producer Connection page on

3. Certification for Wellmark Synergy Health & Wellmark Value Health Plan
WHO: For agents that are going to sell these new Individual & Family plans for 2017
-A separate appointment and passing of certification will be required
WHEN: Certification will start in August and be offered through first quarter of 2017

Federal Marketplace Training:
4. CMS/FFM Certification
WHO: Agents wishing to sell policies on the federal Marketplace
WHEN: TBD watch for more details towards the fall. (2016 Certification to be closed July 15, 2016)
WHERE: Agents can certify direct with CMS or other certified vendors online (Wellmark does not offer these trainings).
-Required in order to sell policies on the federal Marketplace - will need to be certified annually.
More information on training/certifications:  

Attend a 2017 Broker FFM Registration & Training Webinar
Log in or/register at:

Agents & Brokers New to the FFM:
July 20:  1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
July 27:  1:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET
August 4:  11:00 AM - 12:30 PM ET
Agents & Brokers Returning to the FFM:
July 13:  1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
July 19:  1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
July 28:  11:00 - 12:30 PM ET
August 3:  1:00 - 2:30 PM ET
August 10:  1:00 - 2:30 PM ET

Medicare Training:
5. CMS/Medicare Certification for 2017
WHO:  Agents selling/marketing MedicareBlueRx drug plans in 2017
WHEN:  TBD watch for details towards the fall
-Annual certification - required to take every year in order to sell/market MedicareBlueRx and to continue to receive commissions on current PDP business
WHERE:  Online
Released by Wellmark on May 12, Wellmark filed the base premium change for the 2017 ACA Individual and Family Plans with the Iowa Insurance Division.

Wellmark also released on June 9, their Grandfathered & Grandmothered (Pre-ACA) 2017 Proposed rates.

Although the amounts vary by plan type, members may see an average base rate increase ranging around $18 to $21 per month. Increases, if approved, will be effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Pre-ACA Indivdual 2017 Proposed Rate Increases

Plan Type
2017 Proposed Rate Increase
Grandfathered/Grandmothered Plans 5.7 - 6.1%
Grandmothered HMO Plans 42.6%

2017 Proposed Iowa IFP (Individual and Family Plan) ACA
Base Premium Change Average

Plan Type
2017 Proposed Rate Increase
PPO Plans
HMO Plans

Wellmark has created helpful tools - you can find these items in the 2017 Individual Rate Information center located on your  Producer Connection.  See page snapshot below.

It's important to remember in your conversations with clients that these proposed changes do not take place until the beginning of 2017, so no immediate decisions need to be made by clients until open enrollment. Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, 2016, and runs through Jan. 31, 2017.
UPDATE: We have received information that the SEP effective date changes have been pushed back to AUGUST 1, 2016, to coincide with the new IFP Enrollment System.

In last week's News Alert regarding the ACA U65 rate filing, Wellmark outlined how they will work to transform the market to prevent similar future rate increases. One of those updates to the way they do business is improving the shopping and enrollment experience. Changes to this process will be communicated to you during a training period starting later in June. However, as Wellmark has been letting you know about recent changes to the SEP enrollment and auditing process, they thought it would be important to highlight how the new enrollment system will specifically affect SEPs. These changes concern SEP documentation submission as well as SEP effective dates. 

SEP documentation changes ( ACA only - grandmothered/grandfathered to be effective later in 2016)

Beginning July 1, 2016, the documentation submission process will change for ACA SEPs. A benefit to the new process will be that agents will not have to retain the supporting SEP documentation after submission. Instead, documentation will be provided during the application/change process and reviewed prior to the policy/change request being effective.

For grandmothered/grandfathered SEPs, the current process of the agent retaining the documentation and being subject to a random audit will remain in effect until this business is transferred to the new quoting and enrollment system.

SEP effective date changes  (all SEP - ACA, grandmothered, and grandfathered business)

Beginning August 1, 2016, Wellmark will change SEP effective dates to match those from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is to provide clarification between on-exchange and off-exchange business in the market. 

If an SEP application is received between the 1st and 15th of the month, the coverage will be effective the first of the month following the receipt date. If the SEP application is received between the 16th and the end of the month, that coverage will be effective the first of the second month following the receipt date. 

The effective date changes do not change the rules regarding the event notification timeframe for SEPs; in general, those remain at 60 days prior to or after the event. A couple examples can be seen in then chart below:

SEP Event
Event notification timeframe Date that SEP application is received Date that coverage goes into effect
Marriage on 7/16/16 60 days prior to event and within 60 days of event 9/5/16 10/1/16
Dependent turning 26 on 8/17/16
60 days prior to event and within 60 days of event

Note: These effective date rules apply for all SEP enrollment events except for birth, adoption/foster care, legal guardianship, and court ordered coverage. The guidelines for the effective dates of those events will remain the same (the date of the birth, adoption, guardianship, or court order). If the standard effective date would cause a gap in coverage, please call to discuss the possibility of an exception/earlier effective date (documentation will be required to receive it).


A comprehensive PDF outlining the different SEP events and rules that apply to can be found here, and should be used beginning July 1, 2016. It will also be placed on the SEP page that has been created on Producer Connection. The SEP guidelines charts that should be used between now and August 1, 2016 can also be found on that page.

For additional questions, please contact your Individual Account Rep:
Tonya Helmers -
Jamie Kamerman -

Thank you to those that attended the IFP (Individual & Family Plans) Classroom training sessions.  The new IFP Quoting & Enrollment system is set for launch mid-August.  If you were unable to attend, there will be helpful tips and webinars available on the Producer Connection page.  Please note that due to the transition between the current system, QUE, and the new system, only paper applications will be accepted between August 1 - 15.  Please continue to watch Blue Briefing emails for more information.

What is this?
This new system will replace QUE for Individual & Family Plans.  Small Group and Medicare products will not currently be using this system.

Can I do more than just quoting and submitting applications?
Yes, this system will contain your Individual & Family book of business.  You will be able to see your member's plan types, ID#s, dependent information, and billing/premium information.

I can see ACA & pre-ACA book of business?
When the system first launches you will only be able to view your ACA business.  Pre-ACA business is expected to be transitioned over beginning of 2017.

SAVE THE DATE!  For Wellmark's 2016 Producer Forums.  

August 2:   Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, Sioux Falls, SD

August 4:   FFA Enrichment Center, Ankeny, IA 

August 9:   The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Watch your email for an invitation coming with detailed registration and venue information.


Effective for September, 2016 effective dates and after, commissions for new SEP policies will match the renewal commission rate. (pushed back from August 1).

SEPs are one of the cost drivers creating the need for larger rate increases. Members who enroll as an SEP and then cancel coverage after receiving care have an adverse effect on the entire Wellmark insured population.

Many of the largest carriers across the United States have already announced plans to suspend or, in many cases, eliminate commissions for SEP policies. Wellmark evaluated this trend and has made the decision to take a balanced position. Wellmark believes in the value of an agent and they will pay a commission for SEP policies. Wellmark also needs to balance our overall market position relative to agent commissions. Wellmark believes it is appropriate to reduce the commission amount for SEP policies.

Wellmark will continue to evaluate commissions for agents to ensure they are market competitive.
Wellmark will offer Medicare supplement Plan G to members in 2017. Currently, Wellmark offers five Medicare supplement plan options: Plans A, D, F, High Deductible Plan F and N.
The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the 2017 indexed cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to the minimum deductibles, maximum out-of-pocket (OPM) amounts and contribution limits for health plans linked to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The announcement was made through Revenue Procedure 2016-28.

Revenue Procedure 2016-28 can be found here. The Treasury Department states that the 2017 levels for HSA-qualified health plans are as follows:

Individual coverage
Minimum deductible: $1,300 (same as 2016)
Maximum out-of-pocket amount: $6,550 (same as 2016)
Maximum annual contribution amount: $3,400* (a $50 increase from 2016)

Family coverage
Minimum deductible: $2,600 (same as 2016)
Maximum out-of-pocket amount: $13,100 (same as 2016)
Maximum annual contribution amount: $6,750* (same as 2016)

* Effective 2007, the maximum contribution is the indexed amount and is no longer capped by the deductible of the high-deductible health plan (HDHP) if it is lower than the indexed amount. In addition, the catch-up amount for individuals over 55 is fixed by statute and will continue to be $1,000 per eligible account.

The deductibles and OPMs for the HSA-qualified health plans in the small business and individual markets will not require any changes as a result of these 2017 index amounts since they remain the same as 2016.

We have added more helpful information to our Resources page!
 Along with applications and forms, we now have our monthly newsletters and special alerts published.  Also included is a monthly events calendar.  The calendar will include items such as training dates, certification dates, and enrollment period dates.

Check it out using the following link:  


Agent Resources
You can access Wellmark BCBS of Iowa forms on our website.   Click Here
Coop Advertising
Did you know you could be eligible for 50% reimbursement on eligible Wellmark BCBS advertising?  Login in to your Producer Connection page - locate the Sales Tookit - N ew ads are now available! Contact Tonya to find out more information about this program.           712-722-3333
Wellmark Annual Agent Certification
WHEN: 2017 - TBD
 This is an annual training specific to Wellmark BCBS and must be completed each year in order to continue to sell Wellmark BCBS group and individual products.  This is a separate requirement from the Medicare PDP certification.  
WHERE: Online - Blue Learning Center

FALL 2016 - TBD
Agenda Items to Include: TBD

RSVP Now to:
Jamie Kamerman -
Tonya Helmers -

Certification for Wellmark Synergy & Value Health Plans
WHO:   For agents that are going to sell these new Individual & Family plans for 2017  -A  separate  appointment and passing of certification will be required.
WHEN:  Certification will start in August and be offered through first quarter of 2017

FFM/Marketplace Certification

WHO: Agents wishing to sell policies on the federal Marketplace
WHEN: TBD watch for more details towards the fall.
WHERE:  Agents can certify direct with CMS or other certified vendors online (Wellmark does not offer these trainings).

More information on training/certifications:  Resources for Agents & Brokers in the Health Insurance Marketplace
-Required in order to sell policies on the federal Marketplace - will need to be certified annually.

MedicareBlueRx (PDP) Certification
This is an annual training that needs to be completed each year in order to service and sell MedicareBlueRx products.  
Access 2016 Training Guide  here


Newly appointed agents with Wellmark BCBS are required to go to New Agent Classroom Training within 180 days of appointment date.  Prior to registering, agents will be required to complete a pre-curriculum online module and assessment on Medicare & ACA.  Once appointed, Wellmark Sales Training will send out an email with the pre-curriculum instructions.  Once the pre-curriculum is complete, you as the new agent will be prompted to Register for training in the Blue Learning Center located under your agent login.  

Ben Van Engelenhoven

122 Central Ave SW
Orange City, IA 51041


Kelly Snieder
906 S Main Ave
Sioux Center, IA 51250


Our Advantages:

Partners Heath Insurance is an AUTHORIZED WELLMARK GENERAL AGENCY located in Western Iowa. We invite you to review our website, consider our advantages, and give us a call today!

Our Locations:

906 S Main Ave
Sioux Center, IA 51250

122 Central Ave SW 
Orange City, IA 51041

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