MTPR

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana

Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale.
Eric Whitney / MTPR

Montana's insurance commissioner says two of the three companies offering health insurance through the individual market in the state cannot adjust their rates following President Donald Trump's decision to end federal subsidies for low-to-middle-income people.

Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale says he'll hold the Montana Health Co-op and PacificSource Health Plans to the rate increases they proposed, which average four percent for the co-op and 7.4 percent for PacificSource.

It's about one month until open enrollment starts for health insurance plans sold on Healthcare.gov. Yesterday Montana's biggest health insurance company said it won't attempt to adjust its premiums downward for next year.

Montana's Health Co-op Remains Standing As Others Falter

Aug 14, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's health care co-op, one of America's few remaining alternatives to traditional health insurance, will resume accepting new enrollees Sunday after it voluntarily pulled itself from the state's insurance marketplace in December.

The insurer took the nine-month hiatus from enrolling new members in the exchange created by President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act to boost its financial reserves and keep it from the same fate that has befallen failed co-ops across the country.

The three biggest health insurance companies in Montana met with state insurance commissioner Matt Rosendale Wednesday to explain their price increases for 2018.

Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Matthew Rosendale.
Montana Legislature

Later today in Billings State Auditor Matt Rosendale is holding the first of two meetings to get public input on proposed health insurance prices for 2018.

The state has some regulatory authority over health plans sold to individuals and small groups, that’s about 114,000 people in Montana. That authority allows the state auditor to review, but not reject proposed prices by insurance companies.

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Montana’s health insurance companies are asking for rate increases for 2018 ranging from 2 percent to 23 percent. Those numbers released today are much lower than the rate increases for last year, some of which topped 50 percent.

The proposed increases are only for the individual and small group markets. Most Montanans get their health coverage elsewhere, either through their jobs or government programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Veterans Administration.

As Congress works on overhauling health care, the company with perhaps the most at stake in Montana is Blue Cross and Blue Shield. It's a division of Health Care Service Corporation, which says it's the fourth largest insurance company in America.

Montana Public Radio’s Eric Whitney talked about the changes Congress is proposing with John Doran, a vice president and chief of staff for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana.

Montana Lawmakers Push Bills On Health Costs, Transparency

Apr 17, 2017
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Congress may be undecided about former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but Montana lawmakers are pushing through legislation they believe will bring down health care costs and increase price transparency regardless of what happens in Washington.

A half-dozen measures were still alive as the 2017 legislative session enters its final days. They include authorizing a high-risk insurance pool, allowing out-of-state insurers to sell policies in Montana, better informing patients about health care prices and giving tax credits to small companies that offer high-deductible plans to their employees.

A bill to address the high cost of air ambulance rides may not do anything if it passes in the state legislature. Because, as one lawmaker puts it, the proposed legislation may accomplish its goal even before it becomes law.

A line of people waiting to testify in support of removing balance billing for air ambulance rides in Montana.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana lawmakers are trying to find a balance between the lifesaving air ambulance services, and the crippling debt those rides can bury patients in.

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