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Prices released for Mont. insurance exchange

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State officials on Monday released the Montana prices for insurance under the federal health care law insurance exchange, giving consumers their first glimpse of how much the coverage will cost.

Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen released pricing details for different plans available from three different companies. The insurance is available in October. Starting next year, those without some sort of health insurance will have to buy it.

The rates show that a 30-year-old could buy plans varying in cost from about $200 a month to $300 a month.

Rates vary with various copays and deductibles available from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource and the Montana Health CO-OP.

For instance, a cheaper “bronze” plan from BCBS has copays of 30 percent and a deductible of $3,750. That plan’s cost ranges from $117 a month for children to $330 for those over 50 and, on the high end, $554 for those over 64.

And one more expensive “gold” plan has copays of 20 percent and a deductible of $500. It costs from $168 per month for children, on the low end, and up to $793 a month for those over 64.

Rates released Monday do not include the up-front federal tax credits available for most people that earn less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $94,000 for a family of four. Those credits cap the percentage of income a person could pay for insurance.

The state says, for instance, a single person earning 200 percent of the poverty level — about $23,000 — would only pay a maximum of 6.3 percent of their income for a mid-tier “silver” plan. That would equate to about $120 a month. The remainder of the cost — the difference between the cost and the 6.3 percent — could be covered by the tax credits, which could be mailed directly to the insurance company.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by these prices and pleased that Montanans who have survived cancer and other serious illnesses will no longer be denied health insurance or priced out of the market,” Lindeen said in a statement. “Not everything about Obamacare is perfect, but these market reforms were a long time coming.”

Her office said the private insurance must cover 10 essential areas, including mother-newborn care, doctor’s office visits, emergency care and others.

The state points out that tax credits are not available to those earning less than 100 percent of the poverty level.

The federal health care law anticipated that states would take advantage of federal money to expand Medicaid to cover that population. The Montana Legislature earlier this year rejected the expanded coverage.

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