The Billings Outpost

Obamacare rates released

HELENA – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen released today the list of prices for insurance policies that will go on sale this fall as part of the final roll-out of Obamacare’s insurance industry changes.

As expected, the prices are in line with what Montanans expected to pay for health insurance had Obamacare not become law, a fact Lindeen attributed to Montana’s citizen protection laws that have long prevented many of the worst insurance industry abuses. In some cases, the prices may be somewhat cheaper than current rates.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by these prices and pleased that Montanans who have survived cancer and other serious illnesses will no longer be denied health insurance or priced out of the market,” Lindeen said. “Not everything about Obamacare is perfect, but these market reforms were a long time coming.”

All insurance sold in Montana is regulated by Lindeen’s office – including pricing and benefits covered. The prices Lindeen released Monday are final for 2014 and will not change during the year. The prices will be posted to the commissioner’s website today.

The rates are for plans that will be sold beginning in October through the federally built insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace will be an online insurance store where Montanans can compare plans sold by three different private companies: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource and the Montana Health CO-OP. The rates released Monday do not include tax credits that many Montanans will receive when buying insurance through the Marketplace.

All the plans sold in the Marketplace – and in the private insurance market – must now cover ten “essential health” areas, including mother-newborn care, doctor’s office visits, emergency medicine and others. The plans are broken out by “actuarial value,” – an insurance term that refers to how much an individual pays for medical spending and how much the insurance company pays. In this way, Montana insurance shoppers can easily tell which plans are similar. A “platinum plan,” for example, has an actuarial value of 90 percent. That means the insurance company pays 90 percent of medical costs on average, while the consumer pays 10 percent.

Lindeen reminded Montanans that the prices do not reflect new federal programs designed to make buying insurance more affordable, programs many Montanans buying in the Marketplace are expected to qualify for. More information about the tax credits and other discount programs are on Lindeen’s Obamacare education website, www.montanahealthanswers.com.

 

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