2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

2018 Rate Hikes: Montana (early look)

A shout-out to Jeremy Johnson for the heads up: The Montana Commissioner of Securities & Insurance has released their preliminary 2018 rate requests for the individual and small group markets...and it's pretty darned straightforward. As a nice bonus, they even saved me the trouble of digging up the effected enrollee numbers. In fact, the only critical data missing are the "Part II Justification" files, which hopefully clarify how the CSR payment/mandate enforcement situation plays into these requests.

Judging by the requests, it looks like at least 2 of the 3 on the individual market are assuming that CSR payments will continue and the mandate penalty will be enforced. As for the third (BCBSMT), they're asking for a 23.1% rate hike, so I honestly don't know whether that includes the TrumpTax or not. For the moment I'll assume it doesn't, but will change this later if I'm wrong about that.

Assuming I'm correct, Montana carriers are asking for a statewide average 14.1% rate hike with no (or a partial) TrumpTax, or 27.1% with the TrumpTax (Kaiser Family Foundation estimates CSR non-payment will spike Montana rates by an additional 13 points). Meanwhile, the small group market is looking at a nominal 6.6% average increase.

CORRECTION: I've been informed that unlike the other two carriers, BCBSMT's 23.1% request assumes that CSR payments won't be made. This dramatically lowers both weighted averages, to just 7.7% without a TrumpTax or 20.7% with the TrumpTax.

The other big story here is the Montana Health Co-Op. This is one of only 4 ACA-created Co-Ops still operating (out of the original 23)...and judging from both their enrollment numbers and their nominal 4% rate hike request, they seem to actually be doing pretty damned well, all things considered!

I don't know how the MT Co-Op's actual prices compare to BCBS or PacificSource, but they certainly seem to have fully stabilized. It'd be a shame if that were to all be wiped out by a certain party hell bent on destroying everything that's working under the ACA...