Thousands of Montana university students are receiving money back on their health insurance premiums, thanks to an agreement reached by Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen with the state’s top health insurer.
Lindeen’s office disagreed with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana about whether the company’s rate increase for its student plan in the 2014-15 school year was justified. Blue Cross cooperated with the rate review process, agreed to a lower increase and voluntarily returned premium payments totaling more than $1.3 million to Montana university system students.
A total of $731,330 was returned to the 5,609 students who were enrolled in the student health plan for any part of the 2014-2015 school year. Also, students were charged different monthly premiums in the fall and spring semesters of the 2014-2015 school year. As a result, the 1,538 students who were enrolled only for the Fall 2014 semester received additional refunds totaling $591,132.
“Students have plenty of big costs in their lives, and I’m glad Blue Cross did the right thing and took this major step,” Lindeen said.
Lindeen reminded students to shop around for the health insurance policy that best fits their needs. Students may find suitable policies – along with tax credits to offset premium costs in many cases – at healthcare.gov. Some students qualify for the recently expanded Medicaid program. And those 26 and under are eligible to stay on their parents’ plans.
The Blue Cross plan in question is equivalent to the “gold” plans available on the individual marketplace, and students may find many less expensive plans available. If students are using student loans to pay for their premiums, they should also consider the long-term interest costs of that arrangement.
‘Students have options for health coverage and they should do their research and carefully consider what plans work best for their budget and their health needs,” Lindeen said.
Lindeen recommends seeking advice from an insurance professional or enrollment assistor. Information about options and plans available in Montana, as well as resources to assist consumers, are on the commissioner’s website at www.montanahealthanswers.com.