REINSURANCE PROGRAM CHAMPIONED BY ROSENDALE ALREADY HAVING A POSITIVE IMPACT
CORRECTION TO THE BELOW PRESS RELEASE
The -6.7% overall average decrease for Blue Cross and Blue Shield does NOT include the impact of the new reinsurance program. During the ongoing rate review process, CSI is working with Blue Cross to get their overall average rate change that does include the impact of reinsurance. CSI will report Blue Cross’s overall average rate change, including reinsurance, once CSI has that figure from Blue Cross.
The numbers cited for the Montana Health CO-OP and PacificSource DO include the impact of reinsurance.
HELENA, Mont. – Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale today made Montana health insurance companies’ proposed 2020 individual and small group market health insurance rate changes available to the public.
All three of Montana’s insurers providing coverage on the individual market are proposing average rate decreases for 2020, a dramatic change from years of ever-escalating prices under Obamacare. According to information submitted by the insurance companies to the State Auditor’s office, the decreases are mostly due to the new Montana reinsurance program championed by Rosendale.
Reinsurance provides a financial backstop against high-cost insurance claims, allowing insurance companies to mitigate risk and decrease prices while continuing to provide insurance to Montanans with preexisting and expensive medical conditions. Rosendale has fought to protect Montanans with preexisting conditions and reduce insurance rates by creating a reinsurance program since he became State Auditor in 2017. Governor Steve Bullock vetoed Rosendale’s reinsurance proposal twice in 2017 before finally coming around to the idea in the 2019 legislative session, when the new program was established.
“Since Obamacare went into effect, this is the very first time that Montanans who buy their own health insurance will see their rates go down, and it’s a direct result of the reforms I’ve fought to put in place to reduce health care costs,” Rosendale said. “This is a big step in the right direction and I’m going to keep fighting to further lower health insurance rates, reduce the cost of prescription drugs, protect people with preexisting conditions, and make health care more affordable and accessible for Montanans.”
In the individual market, PacificSource is proposing a 13.4 percent overall average decrease for the 11,500 Montanans covered by their plans. The Montana Health CO-OP is proposing an 8 percent overall average decrease for their 20,700 members. Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s proposed decrease is 6.7 percent for 19,500 covered Montanans.
In the small group market, where the Montana reinsurance program does not apply, the insurance companies’ proposed rates are going up on average. Blue Cross and Blue Shield is proposing an overall average rate increase of 6.9 percent for the 25,700 Montanans covered under their small group plans, PacificSource’s proposed small group average rate increase is 7.4 percent for 20,000 people, and UnitedHealthCare’s proposed average rate increase is 5.2 percent for 135 Montanans. The Montana Health CO-OP provides small group coverage to 179 people in Montana and is proposing a 12.8 percent average decrease on those plans.
2020 health insurance rates will be finalized later this summer after the rate review process is completed. Under Montana law, insurance companies set their own rates. Rosendale does not have the authority to “approve” or “reject” the proposed changes; the State Auditor’s role is confined to reviewing the companies’ proposed rates. Rosendale will continue to press the companies to justify their rates and disclose data that could support further reductions in health insurance premiums.
The proposed rate changes announced today are overall averages, meaning that individuals may see greater or lesser impacts than the average. Open enrollment begins in November of this year, which is when Montanans will be able to shop for plans and see how rate changes affect them on an individual basis. The proposed rates announced today do not affect Montanans who get their health care coverage through a large employer or a government program like Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA.
Although public comment is only required on rate increases over 15 percent, the insurance commissioner’s office will accept all public comments related to proposed 2020 rate changes. Public comments can be emailed to CSIPublicComment@mt.gov through July 27, 2019. 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.
More details on the rate review process, proposed 2020 individual and small group health insurance rate changes, and how to submit public comments can be found HERE.