Saving Money, Protecting Montana

Montana is a beautiful state that provides its citizens with a wonderful quality of life in many different areas. However, we lag behind nearly every other state in protecting our consumers, especially when it comes to health insurance.
A bill currently in the legislature, (HB 105) creates accountability for insurance companies and protects consumers from unjustified health insurance rate increases by requiring them to file their rates with the Commissioner of Insurance sixty days before going into effect.  This bill will also give the Commissioner of Insurance the authority to review rate increases to determine if they are excessive, unjustified or discriminatory.  If a rate is found to be “excessive,” it will be labeled as such and posted to appropriate websites, bringing transparency to the insurance market.

If it is not passed, Montana will be powerless to stop unreasonable rate hikes, or even review rate justifications.  Thus, these rate increases would be born on the backs of the consumer.  Knowledge is power – and this bill gives the consumer the information necessary to decide whether to continue with his or her insurer when rates increase, or to switch to a lower cost policy with another insurer. 

This bill has already had a public hearing in a House committee, but the committee has yet to vote on whether to pass the bill out of committee.  If the committee does not pass the bill by February 24, it will likely be dead and Montana’s consumers will suffer as a result.

Cynthia Wolken from Missoula, MT is a Rural Health Advocate with the Center for Rural Affairs. 

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