Montana Health Trust Insurance Plan Provides Contractors With Portable Coverage

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Billings Gazette examined the Montana Contractors Association health trust insurance plan as part of the latest installment in a series about health insurance and costs. The Billings Gazette on Tuesday examined the Montana Contractors Association health trust insurance plan as part of the latest installment in a series about health insurance and costs in Montana.

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The association's health trust is a not-for-profit entity that uses premiums paid by member companies to finance health benefits for policyholders. Companies pay premiums of $3.95 per hour per employee and are required to provide coverage for all eligible employees. The association's plan offers portable benefits and carries no premiums for workers. The plan has a per-person or per-family deductible and covers80% of most expenses beyond the deductible. Policyholders must pay full price for prescription drugs and file for reimbursements. The plan reimburses 100% for generic drugs.

Martell Hildebrand -- director of the trust in Billings, Mont. -- said members pay slightly more for drugs under this approach, but overall usage is less, so the plan saves money. Health care costs for the trust have increased by about 8% annually over the past several years, which has resulted in higher rates and reduced benefits, but the plan has added a wellness benefit that covers 100% of preventive care.

Hildebrand said the simplicity of the model is what makes it a successful program, butit should not be viewed as a way to revamp the state or U.S. insurance industry. He said, "There is no silver bullet; there is no quick fix. We need to get more healthy. We're not very healthy. It's going to be along-term thing" (Dennison, Billings Gazette, 8/7).

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