Most say few Montanans will lose, pay more for insurance policies

2013-11-30T19:00:00Z 2014-10-03T14:27:34Z Most say few Montanans will lose, pay more for insurance policies

HELENA – How many Montanans whose individual health insurance policies are being canceled because of the Affordable Care Act will end up paying more for a new policy next year?

That number is hard to come by – but most observers of the Montana insurance market and the federal health reform law believe it’s small, both in raw numbers and compared to the overall market.

State Auditor Monica Lindeen, whose office regulates insurance in Montana, says about 54,000 Montanans were covered by individual health policies at the end of 2011 – the most recent available figure. Her office also estimates that at least 38,000 of those people have received or will get letters from insurers saying their current policy does not comply with federal guidelines.

That means they must buy a new policy sometime in 2014.

If all individual policyholders in Montana must get new policies, that’s slightly more than 5 percent of the population in Montana.

However, that number could change, as the effects of "Obamacare" on insurance markets unfold in coming months.

If people buying on the individual market earn 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level – $11,500 to $46,000 for a single person – they may be eligible for a subsidy to offset the cost of that new policy.

Families USA, a national consumer group that’s a strong supporter of Obamacare, released a study last week estimating that 6,500 Montanans covered by individual policies earn more than 400 percent of the poverty level, or 0.65 percent of the population.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said it’s possible that many of those people may end up paying higher premiums for new policies, but that “this concern has been blown seriously out of perspective.”

Jerry Dworak, CEO of the Montana Health Co-op, a company selling policies on Montana’s online marketplace, said people with consistently good health have been able to get reasonable prices on the individual market up to now.

Now that insurers can’t screen out people with poor health, those who’ve enjoyed the lower prices – and who don’t qualify for a subsidy – may end up paying more for their coverage, he said. That group is a small segment of the population in Montana, he said.

Dworak said he believes the vast majority of Montanans shopping on the individual market will be able to get good, affordable policies, including the offset from subsidies.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at

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(7) Comments

  1. PercyJay
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    PercyJay - December 02, 2013 9:41 am
    So let me get this straight: We have a partsian Democrat who's been actively pushing the law, we have a left-leaning organization that advocates for the law, and we have someone whose paycheck depends on the success of the law. And from these three sources, Dennison concludes that Obamacare's going to be just fine, and no one should worry about paying more

    When you poll three Democrats and they all say Obamacare's going to work, the more appropriate headline is "Obamacare supporters say Obamacare is going to work." Not "Most" say.
  2. idiot state
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    idiot state - December 01, 2013 8:29 am
    Absolutely zero reason to believe any good or optimistic news re Obamacare. None. Everything up till now has been false, misrepresented, a bald faced lie. Obamacare is all about redistribution of wealth, and we'll all pay for it. Healthcare rationing, substandard care, long waits, government panels (IPAB) who decide who should and should not get treatment. Thanks Dems! If we don't undo this law it'll be the undoing of America.
  3. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - December 01, 2013 7:29 am
    We pay for the subsidies one way or the other. If people are uninsured and go to the emergency room, we pay that cost down the road through higher medical costs. That is not partisan, it is a fact. So we are paying either way. I am happy those without insurance are able to get it. But we are still paying either way. I thought this was the Affordable Care Act....emphasis on affordable. The other issue as I understand it is that many of the policies being cancelled are junk policies that really do not do much if your sick. Catastrophic coverage in other words. The key is going to be getting young people to sign on to health insurance. When I was 25 ( during the caveman days) that was a bout the last thing on my mind. I was going to live forever. Not very likely younger folks are going to sign up although one can hope. That health care is broken is not a partisan is broken. I am still waiting to hear from conservatives what their plan is that is going to make costs drop and more people able to afford insurance. So far I have heard about vouchers, etc. Not anything substantial...I am waiting to hear their ideas.
  4. jus wundrin
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    jus wundrin - November 30, 2013 7:55 pm
    I have to give credit to dennison who points out that families usa, which claims to be non partisan, is an organization filled with progressives that champions progressive causes like obamacare.

    Without the many who will have to pay higher taxes (subsidys), the plans would be more expensive for a majority of Americans. And with da gubment at the helm a new endless money pit is born, where cost overruns will someday be addressed by "rationing": a friendly sounding word for death panels. Unfortunately by then our freedom of choice will be gone.

  5. Buldog
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    Buldog - November 30, 2013 7:46 pm
    Don't tell anyone at Fox News these terrible numbers, it will ruin their day.
  6. Jacob
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    Jacob - November 30, 2013 7:37 pm
    Who pays for these subsidies ??? Oh that's right everybody else
  7. Kojack
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    Kojack - November 30, 2013 7:25 pm
    a credit back. Who is paying for the credit back? Its somebody else that is having to float the redistribution of wealth. Its stealing from someone else through politics.
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