August 16, 2010                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Montana Insurance Commissioner Awarded Federal Grant to Review Health Insurance Premiums


      Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen announced today that her office was awarded a federal grant to review premium rates of health insurance companies. The grant is part of a $46 million federal grant to states to enhance States’ current processes for reviewing health insurance premium increases. Montana is one of forty-five states to receive $1 million in grant funds to help improve the review of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure consumers receive value for their premium dollars.
      
      Currently, the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI) has limited authority to review rates. Health insurance companies are not required to file rates with the CSI and the commissioner cannot disapprove a rate increase. The Commissioner intends to draft a bill to present to the legislature in 2011 that will grant the CSI rate review and approval authority over major medical health insurance rates.
      
      “The grant money will be used to improve and enhance the enforcement of existing rating rules in Montana and also to expand and implement major medical health insurance rate review and approval authority in Montana,” said Lindeen. “Consumers deserve to know what their premium dollars are buying and that they are getting valuable health care for their money.”
      
      Besides getting review authority, the grant will be used to improve consumer information and allow a consumer comment period via website, telephone or mail, in addition to allowing consumers to request a public hearing. CSI will also provide detailed rate information, such as rate increase requests and rating trends, on the consumer-friendly website.
      
      For more information about the grant, call CSI at 1-800-332-6148.