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Open Enrollment for Health Insurance is Here, and It Matters to Beaverhead County

Many Montanans can find a plan for $10 or less per month.

November 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 Beaverhead County, 2,131 residents, which is 23%, 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 January 15. If Montanans need coverage on January 1, they must enroll by December 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 Tierney Strandberg, Cover Montana Health Insurance Navigator.


To reach Tierney Strandberg, the local Cover Montana Health Insurance Navigator, email tstrandberg@mtpca.org or go to www.covermt.org. There is also an upcoming event at the Beaverhead Resource Assistance Center (RAC), 205 E. Center St., Dillon, on December 14th, from 10 am – 4 pm. 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.



This press release is supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1.15M with 100 percent funded by CMS/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CMS/HHS, or the U.S. Government. Cover Montana is a project of the Montana Primary Care Association.

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