MTPR

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana

Commissioner of Securities & Insurance Monica Lindeen.
Eric Whitney

If you want to know why health insurance companies in Montana are asking for big price increases on some of the policies they sell here next year, there are some easy answers – but they only tell part of the story.

The three health insurance companies that sell individual policies in Montana say they need to increase their prices significantly next year. They're asking Montana's Health Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen to approve average premium increases for individual health plans that range from 20 to 62 percent. In the small group market, the insurers are proposing premium increases of three percent to 32 percent. 

Insurers, Air Ambulances Would Consider Rate Negotiation

May 25, 2016
Air ambulance bills often have a price tag in the five figure range. Patients' shock over the cost of emergency medical transport has recently turned into complaints filed to the auditor’s office.
(PD)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana health insurance providers and representatives of air ambulance companies said Wednesday they would at least consider negotiations and possibly binding arbitration as a way to set acceptable rates and prevent air ambulance patients from being shocked by their bills.

BlueCross BlueShield of Montana has refunded over $1 million to thousands of Montana university students.

Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote is the new director of Montana's Office of American Indian Health.
Courtesy Montana DPHHS

A Chippewa Cree woman was named leader of Montana’s new Office of American Indian Health today. Gov. Steve Bullock named Mary Lynne Billy-Old Coyote to head the office. She’s currently interim director of the Rocky Boy Health Board, and has 20 years of experience working in Native American health. She has also worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and New West Medicare Health Services.

After an initial rush, the rate of people signing up for the state's Medicaid expansion program has slowed as health care officials prepare for next month's rollout.

Steve Jess

Monday, Montana officially became the 30th state in the nation to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. The announcement at the state capitol was part news conference, and part pep rally, as Governor Steve Bullock thanked a crowd of supporters for everything they had to endure, including months of legislative maneuvering.

Eric Whitney

Last week Montana’s Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen approved big price increases for some health insurance plans in the state – increases from 5 percent to more than 30 percent higher than last year.

To find out who exactly those rate increases do and don’t apply to, and why the rate increases are so big, we talked to Commissioner Lindeen’s General Counsel Christina Goe.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana is paying $1 million to the state to settle more than three hundred consumer complaints.

State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen says the complaints mostly came from people who bought policies on the new health insurance exchange last year. Lindeen says every insurance company had problems with the rollout, but the problems with Blue Cross-Blue Shield were extreme.

Montanans who buy their own health insurance, or who want to, can start buying policies for next year starting on Saturday. It’s the beginning of the Affordable Care Act’s second so-called “open enrollment” period.

The process will be similar to last year, but significantly different, says Adam Schafer, at the Montana insurance commissioner’s office.

"Folks should not experience the same problems that came up last year," he says.

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