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Montanans Talk Benefits on Health Reform Anniversary

Affordable Care Act protects consumers in Montana

March 23, 2012

BILLINGS, Mont. – Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen today joined Montanans who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act to highlight ways the law has improved access to health care and made insurance more affordable.

"In many ways, Montana's insurance market will never be the same," said Lindeen. "For the first time ever, health insurance companies can't deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions like asthma. Patients everywhere are guaranteed a straightforward appeals process when their claims are denied. And soon, everyone who buys a health insurance policy will receive a clear, plain-English explanation of key benefits in the policy before they sign the dotted line."

The Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform bill signed into law two years ago today, was designed to protect against the worst insurance company practices while phasing in important cost saving programs. Already, Montanans are benefiting from provisions that help people with pre-existing conditions find coverage, let young adults stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, and ensure children can't be denied coverage.

The Affordable Care Act has also saved thousands of dollars for Montana seniors. Thanks to the new health care law, 11,500 seniors with Medicare in Montana received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole in 2010. In 2011, 10,415 seniors with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount resulted in an average savings of $615 per person, and a total savings of $6,409,940 in Montana. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole.

Carly Collins, a 22-year-old who recently graduated from college, said the Affordable Care Act has given her piece of mind in uncertain economic times.

"I worried about how I would be able to afford living expenses, student loans, if I was going to find a job in my field, or if I'd ever find a 'real' job that offered insurance benefits," said Collins. "I now have the benefit of being covered for another three and a half years under my father's plan. This is something that I am truly grateful for."

Roger Holt, the executive director of a Billings-based nonprofit that helps families and children with special needs, said the Affordable Care Act's tax credit for small businesses helped him maintain health benefits for his employees.

"The health insurance tax credit has made all the difference for our employees," said Holt. "Without it, we would have been forced to continue chipping away at our health insurance coverage until there was nothing left."