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Thousands of Montanans receive discontinuation notices about health plans

By Scott Zoltan, KECI Reporter, szoltan@keci.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:16:04 PM MST
Updated On: Oct 31 2013 07:31:11 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Around 20,000 Montanans have received letters from their insurance providers, notifying them that their current health insurance plans are being discontinued because they don’t comply with new regulations instated by the Affordable Care Act.

PacificSource, an Oregon-based insurer, sent out roughly 5,000 letters to Montanans.

“We have been sending letters out to our members indicating their options,” said Todd Lovshin, PacificSource Health Plans Regional Director.

Customers who receive the letters will have to renew with compliant plans or shop for other compliant plans in the marketplace.

Blue Cross Blue Shield sent out roughly 13,500 letters in Montana. John Doran, a marketing director with the company’s Montana operations, explained the new safeguards put in place by Affordable Care Act.

“Individuals who purchase their own insurance will now receive safeguards that have historically been provided to people who receive employer-based insurance. These safeguards include guaranteed issue, a wider pooling of risk, and a much broader array of covered benefits,” said Doran.

A Missoula couple received a letter from their provider, Madison National Life Insurance Company, stating that the company “will be exiting the individual major medical insurance market in Montana,” and that “the Increased regulation will make it difficult for Madison National to continue to operate and compete meaningfully in Montana’s individual major medical market.”

Michael and Barbara Starmer tell NBC Montana that they’ve been researching other options, but comparable plans could be a lot more expensive than their previous coverage. They’re considering going uninsured.

“Obviously the plan we were on didn’t meet government specifications, so that’s why we’re being discontinued on that,” said Michael Starmer.

Similar letters have gone out nationwide from various insurance companies.

Folks in Montana looking for help navigating the new marketplace can visit this site, set up by Montana’s Commissioner of Securities and Insurance. The page lists “navigators” available to assist residents around Montana.