Iowa's insurance commissioner on Wednesday approved a 12-13 percent increase in premiums for 150,000 Iowans who buy their health insurance from Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the Des Moines Register reported.

Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss said today that an independent actuary and one who works for her department both agreed that the premium increase was justified by higher spending on health-care services.

The increase will affect about 150,000 people who buy health insurance directly from Wellmark, rather than through an employer.

Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield raised premiums on individual policy-holders by 9.4 percent last year, 8.5 percent in 2011 and 18 percent in 2010.

"It's never easy to decide to raise rates," Voss said in a prepared statement. "...The facts support the requested increase, in spite of the emotional resistance to do so. Overall health-care costs of the people covered under these policies were the driving factor. Until we reduce underlying health care costs, rates will continue to increase at levels we don't want to see and that may be unsustainable."