The Indy: Montana Health Insurance Costs Soar

by jhwygirl

I wrote here just the other day of what many view as the galling move by WellPoint to increase health insurance rates of 34 million people across 8 states.

That increase will help increase profits by an estimated 7% for this year. This, from a company that made $4.7 billion in profit off of $60 billion in sales.

Stop, take a breath and read that again.

Not gonna happen here? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana controls 75% of Montana’s health insurance market share. And now here comes The Missoula Independent reporting that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana has recently sent out notices of rate increases, as high as 43%.

Apparently this is an anomaly that perhaps we shouldn’t be worried about:

Tim Warner, the company’s senior director of external affairs, says most rate hikes this year fall between 10 and 20 percent, on par with recent years.

Make sure you read that last paragraph with a heavy dose of sarcasm, folks.

Make sure to read that Indy link – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana put out a notice on February 10th telling its customers that their health insurance rates (not their cable costs, or their internet costs – all things that people can really do without) would be going up by as much as 43% on April 1st.

State auditor’s office spokesperson Jackie Boyle said that while they lack any authority to crack down on the rate increases, “anybody who has bought into a health insurance product from our company and there’s a premium increase that high, they really should…contact us so we can work with them to see if there’s a better solution.”

The Indy’s Matthew Frank is looking for Montanans that have gotten these rate increase letters. If you can help him out with that, check out that post and give him a holla. This story deserves thorough investigative coverage.

~~~~~~~~
I haven’t given up on expecting some real reform. After last week’s WellPoint showdown in the Senate, with the rate increases meeting press release on the eve of this past week’s bi-partisan health reform summit, patience is wearing pretty thin with those that know something has to be done.

Think me crazy if you will, but these reckless increases by health insurance corporations only serve to make me renew my calls for a public option. Here in Montana, there is no competition, and competition is key to affordability.

Think about this, readers: If Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana just put out notices raising rates as high as 45% – and it is (fact) the state’s largest insurer – it makes sense that other minor insurers will be following.

Think about what that means – because every single taxpayer in this state – whether you have health insurance or not, whether you obtain it from your employer or whether you obtain it on the free market – all of you should be expecting another larger bill here sometimes in the future. That’s because as a taxpayer, you not only have your very own health insurance that you either pay for or you don’t, you are paying for all sorts of local, state and federal employee’s health insurance.

And they are pulling out of the same market (or lack thereof, as is the case here in Montana) as everyone else.

Expect that bill in the mail sometime before the next legislative session. At some point, the insurers start negotiation with the state. Probably Department of Administration. Will the state negotiate any impending 45% rate increase? Rates that have – by their own admittance as linked to above – normally increased between 10 and 20% annually over the last decade?

Seriously – imagine your heating costs or your mortgage or rent going up by 10 to 20% annually. Those kind of increases – let’s take gasoline as an example – strap this nation and bring it to its knees. Yet Montana Blue Cross Blue Shield puts that out there very matter-of-factually. That that’s OK…and here we are standing around debating the need for health reform.

The status quo is not acceptable when it comes to healthcare in this nation.

~~~~~~~
I hope I’ve sufficiently fired you up. Remember some main points: WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and 45%. Now fire off an email, ever how brief, telling Sen. Tester, Sen. Baucus, and Rep. Denny Rehberg that you want real meaningful reform…and remind them (by mentioning WellPoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield Montana and that 45% figure) that you are watching.

Silence, in this case, is not golden.


  1. problembear

    i will direct my energy toward a montana state health care plan. as far as lobbying for change from baucus and washington dc this is the result for me….

    http://www.youtube.com/user/knowwhatimeanvern#p/f/8/Fbp66zbvPrQ

  2. Pilot

    This all seems a bit otherworldly to me.

    Baucus has seemed for years to give more consideration to the insurance industry than he has to constituents. Perhaps this has been simply delusional. Perhaps he believes the Republican mantra that privatization can fix anything, that we should put our trust in corporations whose directors are required to maximize profits above all else.

    Rehberg has never given any indication that he gives the slightest damn about what happens to people beyond his inner circle. Like perhaps every other national Republican officeholder at this time, he believes the best thing that can happen is that we get no health care reform, and that any problems can easily and convincingly be blamed on the Democrats.

    Collectively, the Republican party has managed to get a bill close to what they wanted (i.e., no single payer, no public option, no reform of the Republican-generated, budget busting Part D Medicare and Medicare “Advantage), because the Democrats have been so anxious to compromise and so willing to cut bad deals with their least helpful party members, that they were willing to settle for meaningless measures, “reform” in name only.

    The American public is so unblievably stupid that we have witnessed the countrywide spectacle of Medicare beneficiaries going to “Tea Parties,” and complaining that they didn’t want government involved in their health care.

    • unblievably stoopud

      “The American public is so unblievably (sic) stupid”

      Ah, those stupid americans, they’re so fat and dumb. Sure glad we aren’t like them, or at least, you’re not, Pilot. You’re just so much smarter than the rest of us. I’m just grateful to be able to read what you type.

      Reading your posts always reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s limerick about restroom graffiti.

  3. Chip Bull

    The problem, Problem Bear, is that the focus on a perfect health care system has become the enemy of a good health care system. The party of “No”, or anti everything Obama, combined with the confused democratic senate and house votes against the currently considered plans will continue the absolute mess we have now.
    Check out Enthoven on this NPR program; http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/02/curbing-health-care-costs. The message is that the current bill being considered (reconciled b/n the house and senate) is lacking in many areas, however, makes enough significant & basic changes to allow real changes over the next 5-7 years. One question, are you advocating “Schwietzer Care” ?
    C. Bull

    • problembear

      whatever you want to call it c.bull- anything is better than waiting for insurance leeches to blackmail us into paying their “protection” money in obama’s bill or in just letting status quo continue to eat up our GNP.

      this state could do this and should do it. we have a very energetic and very motivated governor who could use this as a springboard to higher office if he uses his imagination a little bit and quits listening to the mewling kitten political so called mavens that “advise” our democrats to act like republicans.

  4. Kevin

    A state solution. Good luck getting that as Monica Lindeen has taken no position nor action on health care reform. Better stick with the feds, as sad as that makes me.

    • problembear

      i don’t expect monica lindeen to do any more or less than schweitzer tells her to. who said anything about lindeen?

      schweitzer can do this. it would put pressure and heap scorn on any republican stupid enough to oppose a state public insurance option.

      win or lose, it is political gold.

      • Kevin

        Lindeen doesn’t work for Schweitzer, she is the auditor and is supposed to be in charge of insurance. Schweitzer would be much better, you are right.

        • I will tell you that there is a general consensus amongst many people that Monica does, indeed, work for Schweitzer.

          Thought I’d just say that. I mean – it’s not like it’s just a few people or anything…or just Missoulians. It’s pretty widespread, actually.

          • problembear

            of course she does. i mean, she probably has her own ideas and all but brian calls the shots.

          • problembear

            i do applaud monica for her proactive and responsible stances on the cornerstone property fraud case and on other quick buck artists who have defrauded montanans for years. just giving credit where credit is due.

            monica is not powerful enough to start a badly needed program for statewide public option health insurance. that is expecting too much. that is a job that belongs to the governor of our state.

            if he takes this on and is successful, brian would be in a very good position politically and montana would be able to put it’s citizens back to work far quicker than any other state in the union.

            i would rather see this state attracting those businesses that think about things like providing decent affordable health benefits for its employees than a business that seeks to extract a resource and then move on with the profits.

            the opportunity for montana is there to provide a statewide public health insurance option that would attract businesses both small, medium and large from all corners of the globe. it would make our early day gold mining days look like tips made from shining shoes.

            like i said. and the video talks about this. our country is limited only by our imaginations. listening to tea-baggers and mealy-mouth political strategists will only keep us mired in a two rut road to the third world. it takes courage to do the right thing and sometimes the right thing to do is also the most inventive and creative thing that you can do. i don’t see success coming from listening to those who engineered this train wreck.

            if the nation’s leaders are too corrupt and our government is too beholden to corporate interests who profit by our demise then it is time to reinvent our state by ourselves and let the country follow if they have the courage to succeed. all i know is, you don’t get gold by following anyone.

    • Laura

      Lindeen has taken a postion in fact she had a guest editorial n the GF Tribune within the last two months.

  5. The insurance companies want Obama’s “reforms.” That way they get millions of new happy customers via the mandate. And nice backstop from the govt in case things get scary out there in the big bad marketplace, sorta like the banksters got.

    This is their way of giving us all a little nudge.

    • If they’re anyone’s reforms, their WellPoint’s and any other health industry lobbyist’s who were able to get inside the revolving door of the Senate Finance Committee.

      Patience is wearing thin, and I can’t imagine how anyone can stand by now and not realize that a public option is needed to keep these weasels at least somewhat honest.

      Insurance companies have made fools of every single elected who didn’t think we needed a public option.

  6. This article is terrific and up to date. I totally agree with the writer regarding all this stuff.
    I also came across a site that seemed interesting to me regarding the same issue,you can also check out them at http://www.health-insurance-houston.info/
    Thanks




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