New West sale to PacificSource gets final approval

Oregon-based PacificSource Health Plans will pay $1.5 million to assume health coverage for 8,600 people from New West Health Services in Montana as part of a major overhaul of New West.

Montana state auditor Monica Lindeen on Tuesday made the final recommendation allowing the sale, reported KFBB. "My folks here in the financial bureau have looked at everything very carefully," she said. "They looked at both companies' financials, and we feel the policy holders in Montana will be held harmless."

PacificSource will assume control of the policies by the end of the month; however, it will honor New West's existing member contracts and allow them to decide whether to renew with PacificSource when their contracts expire, the Billings Gazette reported.

"This agreement preserves the range of options available to Montanans in our health insurance market," Lindeen said. "I look forward to reviewing the new products and options for consumers (that) PacificSource will introduce over the coming years."

PacificSource CEO Ken Provencher said the company plans to use the deal as a foothold for further expansion in Montana, although he said, "we haven't set a hard and fast goal," noted the Associated Press.

After the transfer is complete, New West will continue selling Medicare Advantage plans in Montana. "This action (Tuesday) is one more step in our transition to becoming an excellent Medicare company, while ensuring our commercial members maintain continuity of coverage with another strong, community-oriented, health-focused nonprofit carrier," New West CEO David Kibbe said.

To learn more:
- read the Billings Gazette article
- see the Associated Press article
- check out the KFBB article