August 3, 2010                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Montana Insurance Commissioner Lindeen leads effort to set up health insurance exchange


      Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen is applying for federal funding for the planning and establishment of American Health Benefit Exchanges (“Exchanges”). Beginning in 2014, Exchanges will be set up to provide a competitive insurance marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy affordable and qualified health benefit plans.
      
      Exchanges will offer consumers a choice of health plans that meet certain benefits and cost requirements. Under federal health care reform, each State may choose to establish an Exchange to facilitate the purchase of qualified health plans by individuals and establish a Small Business Health Options Program to assist qualified small businesses to enroll their employees.
      
      “I am ready to take the lead to establish a Montana Health Benefit Exchange,” said Lindeen. “This grant is the first step of many over the next few years to achieve our goal of making the purchase of health insurance easier for working Montanans.”
      
      Individuals and families getting health insurance through Exchanges may qualify for premium tax credits and reduced cost-sharing if their household income is between 133-400 percent of the Federal poverty level. The Exchanges will coordinate eligibility and enrollment with State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs.
      
      The Exchange grant will provide up to $1 million to each state to help complete the first phase of planning and implementation activities (including direct and indirect costs). Lindeen’s office will submit their application by September 1, 2010.
      
      For questions about this grant or any health insurance issues, consumers may call the Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance at 1-800-332-6148.