Health insurance rates for the individual marketplace in 2018 could rise by as little as four percent to as much as 23 percent, depending on the insurer.

Montana's Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale released the projected numbers on Tuesday afternoon. Spokesman Kyle Schmauch started with the largest proposed increase from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

"Blue Cross overall on average in the individual market is asking for an increase of about 23 percent," Schmauch said. "That will vary according to an individual's specific plan. The Montana Health Co-op is asking for an average increase of about four percent, and Pacific Source is requesting an average increase of about seven and-a-half percent."

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman John Doran said the chief reason for the average 23 percent increase is the uncertainty of the healthcare marketplace.

"There's a lot of uncertainty about the rules and regulations in the individual marketplace for 2018," Doran said. "We're looking for certainty on issues such as the continued funding of cost-sharing reduction and the mechanisms that encourage broad and continuous coverage. Our product pricing reflects that continued uncertainty. Our rates also account for keeping pace with the escalating healthcare costs and the growing use of that care. If and when we receive regulatory clarity, we will review and where appropriate  adjust our rates accordingly."

Schmauch said Rosendale's office does not have the power to order rates to be lowered.

"Ultimately, the rates are determined by the companies themselves," he said. "Matt Rosendale has the authority to review the rates, provide feedback to the insurers, and to notify the public, but he does not have the power to reject those rates."

Schmauch said there will be two public meetings scheduled for Billings and Helena at the end of July. To send feedback to Rosendale's office, email CSIPublicComment@mt.gov.