With the final deadline for getting a healthcare plan under the Affordable Care Act now just days away, the number of Montanans who’ve signed up for insurance plans on healthcare.gov is 2,000 people ahead of this time last year.
This Friday, December 15, is the last day Montanans can sign up for coverage.
The latest figures provided by the federal government show over 18,400 Montanans have enrolled as of December 2. The Montana Primary Care Association’s Olivia Riutta says she’s not surprised.
"We’re optimistic that we’re ahead a little right now, that folks are hearing and understanding that the open enrollment deadline is sooner than it has been in the past," she says.
As directed by the Trump administration, this year’s enrollment period is a full six weeks shorter than previous years.
Star Taylor is an enrollment assister at the Missouri River Medical Center in Fort Benton. She helps people figure out which plans are a good fit.
Taylor says she’s met many people who are hesitant to even shop around for insurance plans.
"They don’t know what’s going to happen with the current administration, you know, you hear so much out there. Most of them who have contacted me, I’ve been able to tell them there really isn’t going to be any changes with the ACA immediately. I’m recommending that they go ahead and get their insurance for 2018."
Anyone opting out of insurance coverage could be subject to a tax penalty amounting to up to 2.5 percent of their total household income, up to a maximum of just over $2,000. 85 percent of Montanans, meanwhile, qualify for financial assistance to help make monthly premiums more affordable.
The sheer number of last minute enrollments can slow the enrollment website to a crawl. Riutta urges perseverance and patience under those circumstances.
"By the time you got to bed Friday night make sure you have enrolled in coverage, and if the system is not working, that you have done everything and put your information in so that you get in line."