- Associated Press - Friday, June 12, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Assurant Health plans to notify its 7,283 Montana customers that it will stop selling and renewing policies as the Wisconsin-based company looks to get out of the national health insurance market.

Assurant’s coverage in Montana is mostly through affiliated companies Time Insurance Co. and John Alden Insurance Co. Assurant is one of four major insurance companies selling policies in the state, and last year began to offer Montana health plans through the online exchange that is part of the national health overhaul.

The company filed notice with state insurance commissioner Monica Lindeen that it is withdrawing from Montana market. The company also is required to alert its customers six months before the withdrawal.

Assurant policyholders will receive letters beginning next week that their individual health plans won’t be renewed after Dec. 31, Lindeen’s general counsel, Christina Goe, said Friday.

Group policies with renewal dates that extend past Dec. 31 will be discontinued on those dates.

“Their plan is to be completely out in 2016,” Goe said.

Assurant officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company’s health insurance business, which specializes in small employers and individuals, has struggled financially since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014.

Individual policyholders in Montana will be told that they can purchase insurance coverage for 2016 during the open enrollment period starting 2016, Goe said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, PacificSource and the Montana Health Cooperative are the other three insurers that sell individual policies for Montana on the federal exchange website.

All three have requested rate increases for 2016, which Lindeen’s office is reviewing. The average increases requested for individual plans sold through the online exchange range from 22 percent to 34 percent.

Lindeen’s office is reviewing the requests.

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