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Premiums will be lower on every single individual market plan in 2020

HELENA, Mont. – Open enrollment for 2020 Obamacare health insurance plans starts this Friday, with cheaper prices across the board thanks to a new program championed by State Auditor Matt Rosendale.

Every single health insurance plan sold in Montana’s individual market will cost less in 2020 than it did in 2019 due to the Montana Reinsurance Program, with annual premiums being about $1,000 cheaper on average. Prices will drop by as much as $4,500 per year on some plans.

“Premiums will be lower on every single plan that 51,000 Montanans in the individual market depend on,” Rosendale said. “Montanans are sick and tired of insurance getting more and more expensive every year. With reinsurance, we’ve reversed that trend for next year, and that’s exactly why I’ve been fighting so hard for over two years to get this program in place.”

“This is a big step in the right direction, and we’ve got to keep working on the problems that make health care too expensive for hardworking people—high deductibles, outrageous prescription drug prices, hospital costs, and limited options are major issues that we have to address,” Rosendale added.

Open enrollment for individuals who buy their health insurance through the federal website and for small businesses with small group plans will run from November 1, 2019 to December 15, 2019.

Rosendale encourages Montanans to visit to compare the plans offered by the insurance companies—Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Montana Health CO-OP, and PacificSource—and look at the specific prices and benefits offered. Consumers can choose to renew their existing plan, change plans, or sign up for a new plan on the federal website.

“It’s important for folks to shop around and consider all their available options,” Rosendale said. “Prices will vary depending on your age, income level, where you live, which company you choose to buy a plan through, and the benefits that plan offers. The Montana Health Answers website provides cost and benefit comparison charts for all regions of the state.”

Health care costs continue to increase, and in the small group market, where the Reinsurance Program doesn’t apply, rates continue to go up on average. But thanks to Rosendale’s reinsurance program, Montanans in the individual market are expected to save about $51 million total in 2020 compared to 2019, based on assumed enrollment distribution.

Blue Cross customers without federal subsidies will save over $1,100 on average next year, unsubsidized Montana Health CO-OP members will save a little over $800 on average, and unsubsidized PacificSource customers will see average savings of over $1,000. Savings on the most popular plans offered by each company also average $800-$1100 in 2020 compared to 2019.

On average, Montanans who currently pay the most for their health insurance will save the most next year. Savings on cheaper plans for younger consumers may be a few hundred dollars, while an older person with more expensive insurance may see savings up to a few thousand dollars.

For a specific example, a 55-year-old living in Flathead, Lake, or Missoula county (Rating Area 3) will save over $2,200 next year on Blue Cross’s most popular insurance plan.

Reinsurance provides a financial backstop against high-cost insurance claims, allowing insurance companies to mitigate risk and decrease premiums while continuing to provide insurance to Montanans with preexisting and expensive medical conditions. Rosendale proposed creating a reinsurance program in 2017. After two vetoes that year, a new bill establishing the Montana Reinsurance Program passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law earlier this year.