Open enrollment starts Friday

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By: Holly Michels

When open enrollment for health insurance on the federal exchange opens Friday, Montanans will see lower prices than in years past.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a reinsurance program, which helps insurance companies handle high claims, in turn lowering premiums for customers.

The state Auditor’s Office said this week premiums on average will be $1,000 less this year. Some plans will see price decreases from last year of $4,500.

In June, all three insurance companies that sell plans on the exchange in Montana proposed premium reductions, citing the reinsurance program, with decreases ranging from 8% to 14%.

The price of plans will go down the most for older people who have more expensive plans, the Auditor’s Office said. It cited the example of a 55-year-old living in Flathead, Lake or Missoula county seeing a reduction in premiums of $2,200 on the most popular plan sold by Blue Cross, one on the exchange. The others are Montana Health Co-Op and PacificSource.

In the most recent state legislative session, lawmakers approved a reinsurance program that let the state pursue the waiver.

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