The Clark Fork Chronicle: Tester: Montanans seeing health insurance rate hikes of 70-80 percent

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Challenging members of Congress opposed to reforming health care, Senator Jon Tester today shared “startling news” about dramatic health insurance rate increases set to hit Montana families.

In a Senate floor speech, Tester described conversations he had this week with school employees across Montana who are about to see their health insurance costs rise by as much as 70 to 80 percent.

“For those in Congress who think doing nothing is the best option when it comes to health care reform, I have one question,” Tester said. “How much more of their paychecks are Montanans supposed to fork over before Congress finally reforms our broken health care system?”

Tester listed Montana school districts bracing for dramatic rate increases, such as:

* Elysian School District (Billings): 69 percent increase,
* Hinsdale and Saco schools: 70 to 71 percent increase,
* Nashua School District: 72 percent increase (83 percent increase for family insurance plans).

Tester has also been in contact this week with Melissa Sanders, a third grade math teacher in Lambert, Montana. Right now, the bill for Sanders comes to $895 per month for an insurance plan that covers her family. Proposed rate hikes would bring that cost to nearly $1,600 per month, leaving her with just $75 every month.

“The folks I’m talking about don’t belong to any big nationwide corporate insurance system,” Tester said. “They’re not paying for anyone’s big million-dollar salaries or lobbyists or advertisements. It’s just the cost of health care–going through the roof–that is breaking these Montana families.”

Tester also noted that Montana’s largest insurance company reportedly plans to raise its rates up to 19 percent this year.

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