HELENA — A judge has given the go-ahead to break up Montana's third-largest health insurance company as part of an antitrust settlement.
U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull's Monday order sets the ground rules for the divestiture of New West Health Service's commercial insurance business.
Five of the hospitals that own the company want to switch their 11,000 employees' insurance coverage to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. Regulators say the deal would spell the end of New West's commercial business and drive out competition.
The settlement will allow the hospitals to switch insurers if they sell the remainder of New West's commercial business to PacificSource of Oregon to preserve competition.
Cebull ordered New West's owners to continue running New West as an economically viable and competitive business until the sale.