HELENA, Mont. -

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana is backing off a plan to increase premiums 3.5 percent in January because of fees in the new federal health care law.
    
Last month, the insurer notified about 3,000 holders of group policies that insure tens of thousands of people that Blue Cross intended to raise premiums for mid-term policy renewals.
    
State law generally forbids mid-contract premium increases, but makes exceptions for changes in state or federal laws.
    
Blue Cross spokesman John Doran said in a statement Tuesday Blue Cross will wait until groups renew their health plans in 2014 to assess the new fees.
    
Doran says that "will allow for consistency and transparency" in how the fees are applied and give groups time to understand the impact of the law's changes.