MTPR

Healthcare

Montana healthcare news.

Health insurance companies selling individual policies in Montana say they have to raise their prices next year. But the federal government says it won’t be as bad as the headlines suggest. The Obama administration says most Americans don’t have to worry about possible spikes in premium rates next year.

Eric Whitney

There's something unusual about how kidney dialysis is done in Helena.

Nationwide, more than 400,000 Americans have kidney disease so bad that they need regular dialysis – meaning they have to connect to a machine for several hours at least three times a week to clean their blood of toxins.

“They have to come at a certain time, so it's very scheduled, very regimented, and their time is not their own,” says Dr. Robert LaClair, a nephrologist, or kidney specialist at St. Peter's hospital in Helena.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ new veterans healthcare representative says she brings a unique perspective to the job.

Mike Albans

Across the country, and in Montana, more and more people are having the kind of terrifying experience that Michael McNamara did.

“I was shooting up in a bathroom in Seattle. At a theater. Everything turned black. There was no white light. There was no friends or family waiting for you. I basically died. I overdosed on heroin.”

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.

Gov. Bullock signs the Medicaid expansion plan into law on April 29 at the captiol. The bill's sponsor Sen. Ed Buttrey, and supporter Stephanie Wallace look on.
Steve Jess

Backers of Montana’s seven-month-old Medicaid expansion say they’re pleased with the first set of financial data released this week.

State figures say enrollment as of July is nearly double initial projections, at 47,399 of the 25,000 who were expected to enroll by now.

More than 47,000 Montanans have enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program state lawmakers narrowly approved last year. The state health department reported updated numbers to the legislative committee that oversees Medicaid expansion today.

The number of Montanans without health insurance has dropped by half in the last year. That's according to State Auditor Monica Lindeen.

 Governor Steve Bullock projects Montana taxpayers could save about $25 million dollars because of the way it manages medical costs for its state employees.

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. 

Pages