Montana state Auditor Matt Rosendale

HELENA – Two Montana health insurers will be allowed to adjust their 2018 rates on individual policies, to account for the Trump administration’s decision last week to end multimillion subsidies for many of those policies, Montana state Auditor Matt Rosendale announced Monday.

Rosendale’s office said federal health officials are reversing an initial decision not allowing any refiling of rates.

Both companies – PacificSource and the Montana Health Co-op, which insure about 36,000 people with individual policies in Montana – told MTN News they’re refiling rates as soon as possible for 2018 policies.

Those rates are expected to be higher than rates filed earlier this fall, when the companies assumed the subsidies would continue to be paid.

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The rates are for individual health-insurance policies sold primarily on Montana’s “Obamacare” online marketplace. Enrollment for the policies for 2018 begins in just two weeks.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana also sells individual policies on the marketplace, but it had filed 2018 rates that anticipated the possible withholding of the subsidies, with an average 20 percent increase.

Blue Cross insures about 32,000 people under these policies, which are for people who don’t have access to group policies through their employer.

The Trump administration announced last Thursday it will end subsidies to insurers that pay for out-of-pocket discounts offered to policyholders earning less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $30,000 a year for an individual.

It said the subsidies weren’t authorized by Congress and had been made illegally by the Obama administration since 2014.

U.S. House Republicans challenged the payments in court and a federal court ruled last year that the payments weren’t properly authorized. That decision has been on appeal.

Other federal subsidies that offset the premiums for these policies remain in place. Those subsidies are available to most people earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level and are paid to about 85 percent of Montanans buying these policies.

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