Health Insurers in Montana Request Premium Rate Hikes as High as 23%

Commissioner says Obamacare reduces choices for consumers and drives up costs

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• July 13, 2017 5:00 am


Health care insurers in Montana have requested premium rate hikes as high as 23 percent for next year, according to the state's insurance commissioner.

The three insurers serving the individual market in Montana are Blue Cross and Blue Shield, PacificSource, and one of the few remaining co-ops created out of Obamacare, Montana Health Co-Op.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which serves about 32,000 customers, is requesting the highest average rate increase of 23.1 percent in the individual market. For their small group plans, they are requesting a rate hike of 6.7 percent.

PacificSource, which serves about 12,000 consumers, is requesting a rate hike of 7.4 percent in the individual market, and the Montana Health Co-Op, which serves 20,000 consumers, is requesting a rate hike of 4 percent.

The commissioner said the rate hikes were due to many factors which included the government's requirement that plans provide certain benefits, the health of the insured population, the amount of services consumed by that population, and the increasing cost of health care services.

"Health insurance is already too expensive for many Montanans, and additional increases are certainly unwelcome news for families struggling to make ends meet," said Commissioner Matt Rosendale. "My office is reviewing the proposed rate changes to make sure they are justified, and I am continuing to push for reforms at both the federal and state levels to lower the cost of health care and health insurance."

"Montanans deserve better than the current policies like Obamacare that reduce access to health care, limit choices, and drive up costs," he said.

In October of last year, the Obama administration announced that premiums for 2017 would rise by double-digits. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, rate increases are a result of the increasing number of insurers experiencing losses on the exchanges.

"Nationwide, average Marketplace premiums for 2017 are increasing more than they have in the past two years," the Obama administration said. "For the median consumer, the benchmark second-lowest silver plan premium is increasing by 16 percent this year, before taking into account the effects of financial assistance."