Sunday is the deadline to enroll for health insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act for this year. Some Montanans might find out during this year’s enrollment they are now eligible for coverage under the state’s expanded Medicaid.
Kim Gillan is the Region 8 Director for the federal Department of Health and Human Services office in Denver. She says Sunday is the final deadline for 2016.
"That’s a firm deadline and we know a lot of people perhaps are confused about the deadlines but January 31st is the drop dead date for Open Enrollment," Gillan said.
The website www.healthcare.gov is the main page for enrollment.
What’s new this year for Montanans is Medicaid expansion. It was passed by the 2015 Montana Legislature and signed into law by Governor Steve Bullock.
Medicaid expansion will largely cover most of the people who found they earned too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but didn’t earn enough to qualify for any federal subsidies to buy health insurance.
Jade Jagers is the Advocate Coordinator at Riverstone Health and helps Montanans enroll in the ACA, also known as Obamacare.
"So that gap of folks who didn’t qualify for anything. So they might have been told no they haven’t been eligible for the last 2 years but that has all changed since November first so that’s why we always encourage people, that maybe they had a negative experience for the last 2 years because they fell into that gap. That gap has pretty much been resolved," Jagers said.
University of Montana Economist Bryce Ward says the state’s uninsured rate has dropped about 4 percent since Obamacare was launched. He says more people with insurance is boosting Montana’s $8 billion health care economy.
"That is 3 to 400 million dollars of new health care spending that’s going to be entering the system in the next few years."
Ward says he expects Montana’s uninsured rate to drop from 14 percent to 10 or 12 percent in the next couple of years.
Navigators are available to help people who have questions, and enrollment events are being planned in several communities through Friday.