Montana Public Radio

PacificSource

Coronavirus
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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.

Bill Asks For Transparency In Prescription Drug Prices

Mar 27, 2019
Prescription drugs. Stock photo.
iStock

HELENA -- As the cost of prescription drugs continues to rise, one bill moving through the Montana Legislature would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide information on why the price of a drug has increased.

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.

Todd Lovshin, VP/MT Regional Director, PacificSource, Scott Malloy, Senior Program Officer, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Dr. Monica Berner, Pres., BCBS Montana, Pam Palagi, V.P.of Finance, St. James Healthcare, Butte, testifying Jan. 17, 2017.
Eric Whitney

A legislative committee on health care prices seems split on whether giving consumers more information about health care prices will make much difference.

Last year Montana's Legislature set up a committee to study transparency in health care pricing, concerned that consumers don't have enough information about what health care procedures cost to shop for the best deals. And that means there's little incentive for providers to offer low prices.

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.

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