Montana health insurance marketplace: history and
news of the state’s exchange

BCBS of Montana and Bright Health offering plans for 2018; cost of CSR added to silver premiums,making other
metal levels particularly affordable

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Louise Norris
Individual health insurance and health reform authority; broker
March 22, 2018

More Montana coverage

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    Insurance Guide
    • A guide to health insurance in
      your state.
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    • Your state’s Medicaid expansion,
      eligibilty, contacts
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    • Insurance for those over 64

Highlights and updates

  • 2018 enrollment down 4.6% from 2017
  • One insurer in 2017, but Bright Health joined in 2018
  • Average rate increase 15.6%, including added premiums to cover CSR cost
  • Cost of CSR added to silver exchange, other metal levels particularly cheap for some
  • 2018 rates and new insurer indicate death spiral no longer a danger

Montana exchange overview

For 2019, Montana has three insurers offering coverage including the Montana Health CO-OP which is one of the four remaining ACA created CO-Ops in the United States. For 2019, it is estimated that there will be an average rate increase of 5.7%. In 2017, 47,699 people enrolled in 2018 plans through Montana’s exchange. That was 9% lower than the previous year and 18% lower than in 2016. The Affordable Care Act established a federal loan program to promote the creation of nonprofit, consumer-run health insurance issuers. By the end of 2016, most of the CO-Ops had closed and only five remained.

Montana and Medicaid

Montana was one of the states which opted to not expand Medicaid. This meant that those households who were below poverty level weren’t eligible for Medicaid. In 2016, the state’s average monthly Medicaid enrollment grew 66% from 148,974 people to 246,548. By 2018, there were 278,662 residents being covered by Medicaid.

Medicare in Montana

Montana’s Medicare enrollment is at 20%, which is higher than the 17% national average. Though its enrollment is higher, its costs are lower spending $6,737 per beneficiary while the national average is $8,970 per beneficiary. Montana residents have the option to enroll in a private Medicare Advantage plan. 45% of Medicare enrollees opt for a stand-alone prescription drug plan.

Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.