2016 Health Insurance Rates Published

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Rates higher for approximately 42,000 Montanans

HELENA – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen today published the health insurance rates Montana health insurance companies will be charging next year in the marketplace.

The rate increases will range from about $80 to about $88 a month for a popular Silver level plan for a 40 year old – a difference of between 33 percent and 37 percent higher than 2015 rates in the individual health insurance market. The average rate increase across all plans ranges between 22 percent and 34 percent across all companies.

The rates published Thursday will affect approximately 41,000 Montanans.

These rates are not for Montanans who have health insurance through their employer or for Montanans who have health insurance through a government program. They also will not affect the nearly 42,000 Montanans who buy their health insurance through the healthcare.gov website and receive a federal tax credit. Monthly health insurance premiums for those Montanans are set at a percentage of their income and many of them can expect to see slight increases, or none at all.

The Montanans who will be affected by the rates published Thursday are those who buy coverage in the individual market and either do not qualify for a federal tax credit or who choose not to apply for a tax credit.

“We are all frustrated with the cost of health care and insurance and I recognize how heavily this weighs on Montana families and small businesses,” Lindeen said. “This office will continue to do everything we can under our legal authority to protect consumers.”

By state law, Lindeen’s office has the authority to review the insurance rates – or monthly price – for insurance plans to ensure the rate is reasonable so the company can pay claims. But, her office does not have the ability to deny a rate increase.

Three private health insurance companies will be selling policies in Montana next year. All three will sell through the healthcare.gov website as well as outside the site. The companies are: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource and the Montana Health CO-OP.

For small business owners, the two health insurance companies selling the most small group plans in Montana are posting average rate increases of 5.6 percent and 6.8 percent.

There are many reasons for the rate increases. One factor is “pent up demand.” Thousands of Montanans who couldn’t afford health insurance before tax credits went into effect in 2014 have insurance for the first time in years. Those people are using the Montana medical system more and getting necessary medical work which had been delayed due to affordability.

Another factor includes competition for market share. Montana’s companies were competing for customers in the last two years, and prices may have been set too low in 2015 in an effort to attract customers.

Lindeen also cautioned Montanans shopping for insurance this fall that prices go up as a buyer ages. Insurance for a 60-year-old is more expensive than insurance for a 30-year-old. Every insurance shopper will see a rate increase year to year based on their age, with increases ranging from half a percent to 4.7 percent.