Tester: Increase Transparency on 2018 Health Insurance Premiums in Montana

Senator to Commissioner Rosendale: Montanans deserve to know how this process works

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale to provide transparency and an honest explanation to Montanans about why they might face higher health insurance costs this year.

“Your office plays a lynchpin role in ensuring Montanans do not pay more than a reasonable rate for their health coverage,” Tester wrote. “I encourage you to use your position to provide Montanans with as much transparency as possible so we can make sound decisions on how best to make quality health care more affordable.”

In his letter to Rosendale, Tester addressed the concerns of the more than 52,000 Montanans who buy their health insurance on the Marketplace and are having their coverage undermined by the Trump Administration.

The Trump Administration has refused to say whether it will continue to provide vital cost-sharing reductions to insurers, which will lower deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for 22,000 Montanans. Commissioner Rosendale will be reviewing proposed health insurance rates, which are due to his office later this week.

“Insurers have said that they could file reasonable premium proposals if they had confidence that cost-sharing reductions would continue,”
Tester wrote. “Insurance commissioners in other states have recognized this and asked their insurers to file two sets of proposed premiums: 1) rates that reflects continued cost-sharing reductions, and 2) rates that apply if cost-sharing reductions end. The evidence is clear-without the certainty of continued cost-sharing reductions, insurers will charge higher premiums.”

Citing the uncertainty around these cost-sharing payments, leading health organizations have said this inaction will cause double-digit premium increases for 2018. Standard and Poor’s confirmed that the markets were on track for stabilization, but uncertainty over cost-sharing reductions and pending legislation could significantly increase premiums or drive insurers out of the Marketplace altogether.

As part of his ongoing efforts to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Tester sent a letter to President Trump offering to provide a rural perspective on how best to bring down health care costs and improve accessibility.

Tester’s PACE Act and Small Business Health Care Relief Act have improved the ACA by cutting red tape for states and businesses alike.

A background memo on why instability in the health insurance market is occurring is available HERE.

Tester’s letter to Commissioner Rosendale can be found HERE.