State Health Insurers Seek Rate Increases

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By: Katheryn Houghton

Montana’s three major health insurance companies have asked to up their rates, according to the State Auditor’s office. The most recent requests come after Montana was hit with double-digit premium rate increases two years in a row, but fall below last year’s jump in price.

Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Matt Rosendale announced the proposed 2018 increases Tuesday.

“Health insurance is already too expensive for many Montanans, and additional increases are certainly unwelcome news for families struggling to make ends meet,” Rosendale said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, which covers roughly 32,000 Montanans in the individual market, requested an average increase of 23.1 percent for 2018. In comparison, last year the insurance company settled on an average rate increase of 55.3 percent.

The Montana Health CO-OP requested an increase of 4 percent. The CO-OP insures about 20,000 Montanans in the individual market.

PacificSource requested an average increase of 7.4 percent and insures approximately 12,000 residents in the individual market.

The proposed rate changes announced Tuesday won’t impact Montanans who have health insurance through their employer or a government program.

Montana law gives the State Auditor’s office the authority to review insurance rates, but it can’t deny rate increases unless they’re deemed unfairly discriminatory.

Rosendale said his office is reviewing the proposed changes to “make sure they are justified.” The State Auditor’s Office will hold two public meetings on the rates this month.

“I am continuing to push for reforms at both the federal and state levels to lower the cost of health care and health insurance,” Rosendale said. “Montanans deserve better than the current policies like Obamacare that reduce access to health care, limit choices, and drive up costs.”

In recent years, Republicans have pointed to health insurance premium increases under Obama’s law as a reason to repeal and replace the act.

Read more at the Daily Inter Lake