In their joint op-ed (“Rate review important for cost control,” Jan. 8) Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen and state Rep. Jeffrey Welborn, R-Dillon, argue that the state’s health insurers should “play by the same rules” as other segments of the industry and be made to file their rates with the insurance department for review. We agree that the same rules should be applied to all segments of the insurance industry, but in this case, the best policy would be to grant those other lines of business that same pricing and underwriting freedom. Market competition is a far better regulator of rates than artificial price controls.

The real problem in Montana’s health insurance market is not a lack of regulation, it’s a lack of health insurers. According to AMA data, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana has a more than 75 percent share of the market statewide, climbing to more than 90 percent in cities like Great Falls and Missoula. Until state officials can find a way to make Montana more attractive to more competitors, trying to order those few companies still doing business in the state to cut their rates will prove an exercise in futility.

R.J. Lehmann
Senior Fellow
R Street Institute
Washington, D.C.

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