Nov. 1 marked the official open enrollment season for Montanans to shop for affordable health coverage plans on the Marketplace. With changes in federal laws, the average cost of a health care plan in Montana is $142 a month. However, a third of Montanans can get coverage for less than $10 per month, and more than 86% qualify for a tax credit to make their monthly premiums more affordable. 

“Rural communities face challenges that contribute to persistent health disparities compared to urban areas, and part of that is the higher numbers of people without health insurance,” said Olivia Riutta, Director of Population Health with the Montana Primary Care Association. “Getting quality affordable health insurance is critical, and since finding the right plan can be confusing, the Navigator team at the Montana Primary Care Association is ready to help.”

Of the more than 50,000 Montanans who get their health insurance on the marketplace, more than 37,000 are from rural Montana. Enrollees come from every part of the workforce, but in the Montana Marketplace, one-fourth of working-age enrollees are either small business owners or self-employed.

Medicaid is also essential in rural Montana. In Glacier County, 7,874 residents, which is 57%, have Medicaid, Medicaid expansion, or Healthy Montana Kids as their health insurance. Statewide, 65% of Medicaid recipients in Montana live in rural Montana.

“For the cost of lunch, many Montanans can buy health insurance and the peace of mind knowing they can see the doctor without getting a huge medical bill,” said Cindy Stergar, CEO of the Montana Primary Care Association. 

The Montana Primary Care Association is a Navigator grantee serving the state of Montana. Through Cover Montana, Montanans can learn health insurance basics, fill out a calculator to see what they qualify for, and connect to an enrollment assister who can walk them through the application and enrollment process. Cover Montana Navigators can provide phone and virtual assistance statewide and in-person enrollment assistance in the following areas: Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Great Falls, Browning, Kalispell, and Missoula. To find the Navigator closest to you, visit covermt.org/find-local-help/ or call the Cover Montana Help Line: (406) 634-3105 or (844) 682-6837. Open Enrollment begins November 1 and runs through Jan. 15. If Montanans need coverage on Jan. 1, they must enroll by Dec. 15.

“Cover Montana Navigators can answer questions about health insurance options and help Montanans find and enroll in a plan that meets their health needs and fits their budget. We can even help families enroll their children in Montana Medicaid and Healthy Montana Kids,” said ShyAnn Raining Bird, Cover Montana Health Insurance Navigator. 

To reach ShyAnn Raining Bird, the local Cover Montana Health Insurance Navigator, email srainingbird@mtpca.org or go to www.covermt.org. There are upcoming enrollment events on Nov. 16 and 30 at the Glacier County Library, 21 1st Ave. SE, Cut Bank from 1 – 4 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, and appointments are available.

The Montana Primary Care Association is the professional association of Montana health centers, including Federally Qualified Community Health Centers and Urban Indian Health Centers. The mission of the Montana Primary Care Association is to promote integrated primary healthcare to achieve health and well-being for Montana’s most vulnerable populations.

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