Lindeen: Five Days Left

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Health insurance open enrollment ends Sunday

HELENA, Mont. – Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen reminded Montanans Wednesday that the national health insurance open enrollment period ends Sunday – and health insurance will not generally be for sale afterward.

Health insurance open enrollment for plans effective in 2015 opened on Nov. 15 and ends on Feb. 15, just five days away. After the end of open enrollment, people will only be able to buy health insurance if they experience a “qualifying life event.” Such events include the loss of a job – and insurance that came with it – marriage, divorce or the birth or adoption of a child.

“We’re getting down to the last minute,” Lindeen said. “If you need health insurance for this year, don’t wait until it’s too late.”

So far, more than 48,000 Montanans have purchased health insurance through the website – and many others have purchased insurance outside the site. Open enrollment applies to all health insurance sold in the individual market – not just plans purchased through the federal website.

Federal statistics show that 84 percent of Montanans who bought health insurance through this year qualified for a tax credit which brought down their monthly bills by an average of 66 percent.

Federal tax credits available through the website are only for Montanans with a household income above 100 percent of the federal poverty limit – or about $20,000 for a family of three. Tens of thousands of Montanans have income below the limit to receive federal tax credits, but make too much to qualify for Montana’s Medicaid program.

Montanans who cannot afford to buy health insurance are exempt from the penalties associated with not having health insurance.