HELENA, Mont. — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana has scaled back its proposed premium increases for insurance policies sold in the individual marketplace after a state analysis and public hearings, but the state insurance commissioner said the increases are still unreasonable.
The finding of unreasonableness will be noted on the federal insurance marketplace website when open enrollment begins on Nov. 1. Blue Cross is challenging that finding.
Blue Cross is increasing its premiums by an average of 58.4 percent for individual policies offered under the Affordable Care Act, Auditor and Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen said in a statement. It had proposed an average 65.4 percent increase.
Blue Cross spokesman John Doran has said that policyholders were using far more medical and pharmacy services than the company anticipated.
“We took a hard look at Blue Cross Blue Shield’s financial data and found that these increases were simply not reasonable,” Lindeen said. “Our insurers need to charge premiums high enough to pay all their claims and stay in business. But some of Blue Cross’ rates for 2017 go beyond that goal.”
The state explained its findings to Blue Cross on Aug. 19. The details will become public next Monday.
About 80 percent of Montanans who buy insurance in the individual marketplace receive tax credits to offset the cost of premiums. However, about 35,000 people buying insurance in the marketplace earn too much money to qualify for the tax credits.
The Montana Health CO-OP is raising its individual marketplace rates by an average of 30.7 percent. Pacific Source’s rate increase averages 27.6 percent.
Individual monthly premiums vary based on age and other factors.