HELENA – More Montanans have health coverage than ever before and the percentage of those without insurance has dropped by nearly two-thirds in less than three years, according to a study unveiled today Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen.
The annual enrollment survey by Lindeen’s office found that approximately 92.6 percent of Montanans had health coverage as of May 2016, an uninsured rate of about 7.4 percent. That’s down from 20 percent in 2013. The uninsured rate dropped to 16.9 percent in 2014 and in 2015, it was at 15 percent.
“This is a huge reduction in the number of uninsured Montanans,” said Lindeen. “There’s still a ways to go before we have insurance that’s affordable to all, but this data shows that more and more Montanans have some type of health coverage.”
The significant reduction in 2016 is largely attributable to Medicaid expansion, passed by the Montana Legislature and Gov. Steve Bullock last year. Nearly 50,000 people have enrolled in expanded Medicaid this year. Many of those had previously been stuck in the “Medicaid gap,” with incomes too large to qualify for the program but too small to qualify for the tax credits provided to those in the individual marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.
“Medicaid expansion is dramatically improving the health of our state, while also saving millions of Montana tax dollars, creating jobs, and investing in our workforce,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper.
County numbers of those newly enrolled into the program can be found online here.
The reduction in the uninsured in 2014 and 2015 was due, in part to the availability of coverage in the individual market. The ACA requires that individual market health insurers accept all applicants, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and about 85 percent of the individuals who purchase coverage through healthcare.gov receive tax credits that cap the amount of premium they owe. In addition, more adults and children enrolled in traditional Medicaid and the Healthy Montana Kids program. The commissioner’s office has worked to educate Montanans about their coverage options by conducting informational sessions and operating a website, montanahealthanswers.com, to help residents find the plans that best suit their needs and budgets.
The data in the report was compiled by CSI from data provided by insurers, the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and findings by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University Montana. The survey shows approximately 957,000 Montanans have health coverage and 76,000 do not, but it is impossible to state with certainty the exact number of insured at any one time.
More data is available here.