(HELENA) The annual open enrollment period is about to start for Montanans who get their health insurance through the individual exchange created as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
This year, enrollment will start Wednesday, Nov. 1, and run through Dec. 15.
This will be the first open enrollment since President Donald Trump took office. Earlier this month, the administration decided to end federal subsidies for many policies on the individual exchanges.
In Montana, three companies are still offering individual health plans this year – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource and the Montana Health Co-Op – but each company will raise its average rates between 13 and 20 percent.
State Auditor Matt Rosendale, Montana’s insurance and securities commissioner, said it’s important for anyone choosing an individual plan to look closely at all their choices, especially in light of the changes coming this year.
”Start early looking at this information to stay abreast of any of the changes that the federal government may still propose to us over the next 60 days, and then continue to shop around so that they can find a plan that accommodates their budget and their needs and their personal choices,” he said.
The website montanahealthanswers.com offers answers to consumers’ questions about the available plans. The site includes details about premiums and benefits, along with information on potential ways to lower costs.
Rosendale, a Republican and opponent of the Affordable Care Act, said he’s unhappy with the premium increases that companies are proposing, but that there is little alternative because of the current requirements from the federal government. He praised President Trump’s executive orders on health care, which he said would mean more options for Montanans in the coming years.
“What I’m hoping is there are still yet changes that come out of Washington that will make some of these plans more affordable for people,” Rosendale said.
Rosendale said about 7 to 8 percent of Montanans are currently getting their health insurance through the exchange. Nearly half get coverage through their employers, while the rest receive government-supported insurance like Medicare or Medicaid.