Montana Public Radio

health insurance

Healthcare.gov has opened a special enrollment period starting April 1. Those in need of an Affordable Care Act health plan will be able to enroll through Aug 15.

This special enrollment period includes tax credits from the latest federal pandemic stimulus package, allowing people enrolling in the marketplace to reduce the cost of their insurance plans. 

Montana Republicans are adding another bill to the slew they’re bringing this legislative session to restrict access to abortion in the state.

House Bill 229 would bar plans offered through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange from covering abortion, except in the event of a medical emergency. It was heard and endorsed by the House Judiciary Committee Friday on a party-line vote. 

Montana Lawmaker Introduces Direct Patient Care Bill

Jan 21, 2021

A Montana state lawmaker today introduced a bill that would formalize a patient’s ability to directly pay a doctor for care without insurance. Similar bills have been vetoed in the past.

Republican Sen. Cary Smith of Billings told the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee that direct patient care lowers provider overhead costs and simplifies the health care experience by sidestepping insurance companies, and state and federal regulations.

A new report released Tuesday says around 60 percent of Montana businesses last year had at least one worker enrolled in Medicaid expansion. Enrollment in the health care program for low income adults has been on the rise for the last four months.

At a meeting in Bozeman, Barbara Wagner, chief economist of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, said nearly 20 percent of the state’s entire workforce was enrolled in Medicaid at one point or another last year.

Montana has awarded more than $540,000 in grants to health care providers so they can help people find affordable insurance plans.

Hospitals, clinics and tribal nations will use the money to train or hire counselors through June who can guide Montanans through the health care insurance application process, including on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Riverstone Health CEO John Felton said during a news conference Friday that many of the Billings organization’s patients have lost their jobs and health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic.


Montana’s health department distributed between $84 million and $163 million in Medicaid and Child Health Insurance Program benefits to people ineligible for those programs, according to an audit presented to lawmakers June 16. State officials emphatically reject several of the audit’s key findings.

Doctors are now cleared to check in with patients over the phone as part of the effort to minimize the number of people in health care facilities. Private health insurance companies and Medicaid are relaxing telemedicine requirements during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials say it could take more than a year to add new "community engagement" requirements to the state’s Medicaid expansion.
iStock

Officials say it could take more than a year to add new "community engagement" requirements to the state’s Medicaid expansion.

Montana is awaiting federal approval for its plan to require some low-income adults to work for health coverage.

People on Medicaid who work rural seasonal jobs in Montana are wondering about the future of their access to health coverage. Montana recently passed a law that, if it gains federal approval and goes into effect as planned in January, would require many Medicaid recipients to prove they work a set number of hours each month.

Average Monthly Premiums for Second-Lowest Cost Silver Plan in Montana 2016-2019.
Data from: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, https://go.cms.gov/2Jp5SkE

Next year, premiums for individual health insurance plans in Montana will go down for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect. Open enrollment starts Friday.

The roughly 50,000 Montanans who receive health coverage in the Affordable Care Act marketplace could see their premium bills drop by hundreds or thousands of dollars next year.

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