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Number Of Uninsured Montanans Drops By Half In 2016

Number Of Unisured Montanans Drops Dramatically In 2016

The number of Montanans without health insurance has dropped by half in the last year. That's according to State Auditor Monica Lindeen.

"Montanans should really be proud of this. I mean, when you think about it, going from 20 percent to 7.4 percent in such a very short amount of time is incredible."

Lindeen credits the Affordable Care Act for dropping Montana's uninsured rate from 20 percent in 2011, to today's announced 7.4 percent. Part of the health care law is the Medicaid expansion Montana lawmakers narrowly passed last year, known as the HELP Act.

"Now, nearly 50,000 – 50,000 – additional Montanans have access to health care because of the passage of the HELP Act. Medicaid expansion pushed the needle to drive the uninsured rate to a record low."

The drop in the number of uninsured comes just days after the three private health insurance companies operating in Montana's market for individual policies have proposed average price increases for next year ranging from 20 to 62 percent.

Lindeen says most Montanans won't have to pay those kinds of increases because they get either get insurance from other sources, or get federal subsidies that offset most of the cost.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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