Montana Public Radio

Montana Health Co-Op

Coronavirus
iStock

Montana’s four largest health insurance companies are voluntarily waiving customer costs for coronavirus testing.

"It’s just the right thing to do," says Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana spokesman, John Doran. "There’s a lot of scare in communities across Montana and, of course, across the nation about COVID. Obviously, the best medicine is prevention."

Average Monthly Premiums for Second-Lowest Cost Silver Plan in Montana 2016-2019.
Data from: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, https://go.cms.gov/2Jp5SkE

Health insurers say premiums on the individual market could drop between 10 and 20 percent once a new bill is signed into law. The Montana Reinsurance Association Act is expected to be signed by Gov. Steve Bullock later this week.

The bill creates a new pool of money to help health insurers cover the cost of high ticket claims for health care.

Hospitalizations and ER visits for alcohol or drug use, primary or secondary diagnosis. Montana 2010 - 2014.
Montana Department of Justice

A Senate bill that aimed to make it easier to get substance abuse treatment in Montana is likely dead. The Senate adjourned Wednesday a few days before Saturday’s deadline to move bills on to the House.

Doctors groups, including the Montana and American Medical Associations, say that now, people who need help may have to wait two years for the next legislative session to cut through what they say is red tape keeping Montanans from accessing recovery options like medication-assisted treatment.

Pills, stock photo.
(PD)

An obscure but important player in the health care industry is in the crosshairs of Montana elected officials, who are proposing new regulations aimed at reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

State Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale, an elected Republican, asked state lawmakers Friday to consider additional rules on the contracts between health insurance companies and what he refers to as the middlemen of the pharmaceutical drug industry.

healthcare.gov website, 11/2/18
Healthcare.gov

The Affordable Care Act’s sixth sign-up season is now underway.

The roughly 62,000 Montanans who buy their own health insurance have until December 15 to shop for a policy. And, for the first time they can also choose to skip out altogether on ‘Obamacare’ without fear of incurring a tax penalty.

Health insurance companies in Montana will be allowed to adjust their prices to account for President Trump’s executive order that stops some federal payments to insurers.

That news came Monday, after one company said last week that if they couldn’t change their prices, they’d have to leave the Montana market due to the President eliminating Cost Sharing Reduction, or CSR payments.

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.

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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