HELENA, Mont. – Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale announced today that 2019 Obamacare individual and small group market health insurance rates are finalized following the Montana rate review process.
Finalized overall average rate changes are nearly identical to the rates initially filed with the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Office of the Montana State Auditor (CSI) in June.
Commissioner Rosendale sent letters to the companies earlier today informing them that their 2019 rate filings contain no deficiencies in accordance with 33-22-157, MCA. Under Montana law, the commissioner’s office reviews rate changes for accuracy and justification, but CSI can’t set the prices and cannot reject rates unless they are unfairly discriminatory. Companies set their rates based on market conditions and mandates contained within the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Final overall average rate changes for 2019 are as follows:
Blue Cross: 0.0% for plans covering about 18,900 Montanans
PacificSource: 6.0% for plans covering about 12,400 Montanans
Montana Health CO-OP: 10.3% for plans covering about 22,700 Montanans
Small Group market
Blue Cross: -4.2% (decrease) for plans covering about 25,000 Montanans
PacificSource: 1.8% for plans covering about 19,300 Montanans
Health CO-OP: 4.7% for plans covering about 250 Montanans
As part of the rate review process, CSI solicited formal public comment from Montanans. CSI received no public comments for 2019 rate changes.
Open enrollment for 2019 Obamacare health plans will begin on November 1, 2018 and run through December 15, 2018.
More information on 2019 rate changes and the rate review process can be found HERE.
See the below press release from June 28, 2018 for additional information on 2019 rates and Commissioner Rosendale’s work to improve health care and health insurance options for Montanans.
(6/28/18) HELENA, Mont. – Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale today made Montana health insurance companies’ proposed 2019 individual and small group market rates available to the public.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana is proposing no overall average rate change (0.0%) for the roughly 18,500 Montanans covered on their plans in the individual market. Blue Cross is proposing an average decrease of 4.9 percent (-4.9%) for the roughly 25,000 Montanans covered by their small group plans.
PacificSource is proposing an average increase of 6.2 percent (6.2%) on the approximately 12,700 Montanans covered by their individual market plans, and a 1.8 percent (1.8%) average increase on their small group plans. About 19,200 Montanans are covered by PacificSource in the small group market.
The Montana Health CO-OP is proposing average rate increases of 10.6 percent (10.6%) in the individual market, and 4.6 percent (4.6%) in the small group market. The CO-OP currently insures about 23,300 Montanans in the individual market and about 240 in the small group market.
Among those three companies, 64 different plans will be available for Montanans in both the individual and small group markets. Additionally, 30 more small group plans will be offered by UnitedHealthcare and WMI off exchange only.
Under Montana law, the insurance commissioner’s office will now review the proposed rate changes for accuracy and justification. The commissioner’s office does not have authority to reject the rates unless they are unfairly discriminatory. Rates will be finalized in August after the rate review process is completed. The proposed rates released today do not affect Montanans who get their health care coverage through a large employer or a government program like Medicare or Medicaid.
Commissioner Rosendale has actively engaged with Montana’s insurance companies to keep rates as low as possible while complying with burdensome federal laws. While Montana’s rate changes this year are significantly better than much of the country, and lower than in recent years, health insurance costs continue to be a burden for consumers.
“Obamacare has been a disaster for many Montana families. We need to repeal it and create our own Montana health care solution instead of relying on an unaffordable, one-size-fits-all program from Washington, D.C.,” Rosendale said. “I will keep fighting to give Montanans more options to get health care based on their own personal needs, budgets, and decisions so that every Montanan can access affordable health care.”
As insurance commissioner, Rosendale has worked to give Montanans more options for accessing lower cost, quality health care. Rosendale has authorized direct primary care agreements and health care sharing ministries as alternative health care options for Montanans. Following Rosendale’s actions, new direct primary care clinics are in Missoula and Polson, and the Medi-Share ministry is operating in Montana.
Rosendale also recently took action against pharmacy benefit managers for violating Montana law while his office investigates the prescription drug industry and ways to stop prescription drugs from continuing to drive up the cost of health care and health insurance.
Last year, Rosendale supported state legislation to bring transparency into health care prices and create a reinsurance backstop to stabilize and lower insurance rates.
Because Congress repealed the individual mandate in the tax reform bill signed into law by President Donald Trump, Montanans will not be penalized with a tax if they choose not to purchase Obamacare plans for 2019. The Trump Administration is also working to expand lower-cost options through association and short-term health insurance plans.
Although public comment is only required on rate increases over 15 percent (15%), the insurance commissioner’s office will accept all public comment related to proposed 2019 rate changes. Public comments can be emailed to CSIPublicComment@mt.gov through July 27, 2018. The commissioner’s office will then compile the comments and forward them to the relevant insurance companies to consider before rates are finalized in August. Instructions for submitting public comment and the companies’ explanation of their rate changes can be found HERE.
Rosendale’s office saved Montanans over $11 million in premium and recovered more than $6.6 million for consumers in 2017 across all types of insurance.
More details on the rate review process, proposed 2019 individual and small group health insurance rate changes, and how to submit public comments can be found HERE.