Tester Urges Health Insurers to Shed Light on Montanans’ 2018 Health Insurance Costs

Senator Demands Answers to Questions About Insurance Uncertainty

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is calling on the state’s health insurance companies for clarity as they prepare to set health insurance costs for 2018.

In a letter to the three health insurance companies participating in the Marketplace, Tester urged Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource, and Montana Health CO-OP to provide transparency regarding health insurance premiums and answer specific questions about what impact the secret attempt to rewrite America’s health care system will have on Montanans who buy their insurance on the Marketplace.

All three insurance companies are required to set their premiums in the coming weeks, but the process faces uncertainty as the Trump Administration continues to play politics with critical cost-sharing payments, which help bring health care costs down for thousands of Montanans.

“It is important to me that Montanans have clear information about decisions that affect their pocketbooks,” Tester wrote. “Unfortunately, some lawmakers are creating unnecessary uncertainty by pushing a secretive proposal that has left many in the dark. This uncertainty has reportedly caused your businesses and others across the country to propose to increase Americans’ premium rates for 2018.”

The U.S. Senate last week postponed a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act and has yet to release a final bill for Montanans and health insurance providers to examine. Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives is suing to end critical cost-sharing reduction payments which help Montanans who purchase health care in the Marketplace cover copays and deductibles, and the Trump Administration has refused to commit to continuing the payments.

Tester is calling on Montana’s Insurance Commissioner to provide Montanans with more transparency as the Commissioner reviews proposed health insurance rates for 2018.

Tester wants Montanans to understand how the lack of certainty from the Trump Administration could lead to higher health insurance costs.

To ensure Montanans have the information they need, Tester is now asking Montana’s largest insurers to answer the following questions:

  • What impact has the uncertainty regarding the future of our health care system had on your proposed premiums for 2018? 
  • Did it lead to an increase in these proposed rates? If so, please quantify to the extent possible what impact each factor (i.e. lack of certainty on cost-sharing reductions, enforcement of the requirement to purchase insurance, legislation to overhaul health care) has had on any increases. 
  • What would your proposed premiums look like without any of this uncertainty?

Montana insurance companies submitted their 2018 increased premium rates to the Insurance Commissioner in June. The Insurance Commissioner is required to review these proposals on behalf of Montanans.

Tester’s letter to the three health insurance companies participating in the Marketplace is available HERE.